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Banks must make alternatives to branch closures


High street banks will be forced to look for alternatives for customers before they shut down any branches which may be the last in a town, according to a new agreement.

Banks must look at alternative methods that will help customers with their banking, such as free to use cash machines, local post office branches, and a “banks on wheels” system, which takes the form of a mobile bank branch in a van.

The new protocol has been agreed by banks, the government and consumer groups, but there will be no punishment if banks fail to provide any alternative to a closed branch.

Many people in small towns and villages have found that they have had to travel long distances to visit a branch, after the last one in their town or village closed. The Campaign for Community Banking Services (CCBS) estimates that 1,200 communities have lost their banks. They recorded 479 branch closures in 2014, more than double the total in 2013, including 124 that were the last bank in the community. A further 142 branches are now set to close before April.

Banks will now be required to consider how close alternative branches are to the ones they will shut, and the mobility of their customers, ranging from young car drivers to older people reliant on public transport. This means the age profile of the branch's customers will now be part of the review.

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