MP promotes banking services in local post offices
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert met with the Minister for Small Business, Margot James, and senior representatives of the Post Office on Wednesday (17 October) to discuss concerns about rural post offices.
Mr Herbert requested the meeting, which was held at the House of Commons, to discuss how the Post Office could do more to promote banking services in villages where banks have closed their high street branches.
Many small market towns and villages in the Arundel & South Downs constituency have lost their high street banks as customers increasingly move to online banking. But local businesses in particular still rely on local banking services.
An agreement was reached between the Post Office and major high street banks in January of this year so that 99 per cent of customers and over three quarters of businesses can access day-to-day banking at their local Post Office.
Most customers can use their local Post Office branch to deposit cash and cheques, check their balance and withdraw cash, regardless of the bank they have an account with.
Mr Herbert asked the Post Office whether they could extend their banking services to more businesses, and he suggested that the banks and the Post Office should do more to raise awareness of the range of banking services that local post office branches can offer.
Martin Kearsley, Banking Services Director, and Mark Davies, Corporate Affairs Director at the Post Office responded that they planned to extend their banking services to more businesses, with Lloyds set to bring their business customers into the Post Office network. This is part of a new extension which will take business customer coverage to 95 per cent, and the Post Office agreed that more should be done to promote these facilities to communities, especially where banks had closed high street branches.
Mr Herbert also highlighted the importance of maintaining post offices in rural areas, and he raised concerns about the impact of recent business rate revaluations on some branches. He urged the Minister to look at the impact of the revaluation on small businesses, highlighting the effect on a number of pubs in his constituency which face huge rates rises.
After the meeting, Mr Herbert said: “I welcomed this opportunity to discuss the importance of post offices and the opportunity which they have to provide local banking services where these have been withdrawn from high streets by the major retail banks.
“There has understandably been huge concern when our small market towns and villages have lost their high street banks, but post office branches can provide the banking services which local businesses and the public need. More needs to be done to extend these services and promote them more widely.
“We also need to ensure that post offices stay open in small market town and villages so that these and other important local services can continue to be provided”.
1. Further details on the range of personal and business banking services offered by the Post Office can be found on their website: https://www.postoffice.co.uk/branch-banking.