AN MP has urged the head of the financial services regulator to relax rules to allow ATM provider LINK to step in and also create more banking hubs - to ensure residents and businesses can always access cash.
Shipley MP Philip Davies said bank and building society branches were closing at an alarming rate and it was not acceptable people were forced to travel miles, often out of their area to get out money or pay it in.
A consultation into accessing cash is currently underway and one proposal put forward by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) would end the “last bank in town” rule, which effectively stops LINK deciding if an area needs more access if there is a bank or building society available. Instead, the FCA is proposing LINK could intervene when the second to last bank closes.
But Mr Davies said the proposal did not go far enough and he wanted more measures put in place.
He said: “LINK should be able to operate on a case by case basis and look at the bigger picture in an area and intervene earlier if they think it is needed, rather than having to wait until the second to last bank shuts.
“Each area has differing needs and a one size fits all model is not good enough. We do not live in a cashless society and people need to be able to access cash. Many people only want to shop with cash and that is their right, and something I fully support.”
Mr Davies is one of 57 cross party MPs who today called on Chief Executive of the FCA Nikhil Rathi to act. In an open letter to the finance boss, the MPs said where it was obvious more branches were going to close in a particular area, LINK should be able to recommend a banking hub – even if branches currently remained.
The letter reads: “Ultimately if a community with six banks loses three of these in a few years, it is reasonable to assume that the remaining three may close in the few years that follow.”
The MPs said they did not want to do anything to accelerate more banking closures but sadly, “if the direction of travel is clear, why not intervene while the services are still present in a community, preventing a situation with no access to cash?”