The Bishop of Exeter received the following written answer on 14th March 2023:
The Lord Bishop of Exeter asked His Majesty’s Government how many bank branches in Devon closed in (1) 2018, (2) 2019, (3) 2020, (4) 2021, and (5) 2022.
Baroness Penn (Con): The Government believes that all customers, wherever they live, should have appropriate access to banking services. Nonetheless, decisions on opening and closing branches are a commercial issue for banks and building societies. The Government does not intervene in these decisions nor make direct assessments of these branch networks. Based on constituency level data published by LINK there are over 650 ATMs and more than 80 bank branches in the county of Devon.
Guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority sets out its expectation of firms when they are deciding to close their branches. Firms are expected to carefully consider the impact of planned branch closures on the everyday banking and cash access needs of their customers and consider possible alternative access arrangements. This ensures that the implementation of closure decisions is undertaken in a way that treats customers fairly.
Alternative options for access include via telephone banking, through digital means such as mobile or online banking, or the Post Office. The Post Office Banking Framework allows 99% of personal banking and 95% of business banking customers to deposit cheques, check their balance and withdraw and deposit cash at 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK. New shared banking hubs are also being piloted, providing basic banking services and dedicated space where community bankers from major banks can meet customers of that bank.
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