More shared “banking hubs” are to be rolled out across the UK to help communities hit by branch and ATM closures to get continued access to cash.
A banking hub is a shared service that operates in a similar way to a standard branch, with a counter service run by Post Office staff where customers of almost any bank can withdraw and deposit cash, make bill payments and carry out regular transactions.
There are also private spaces where customers can speak to someone, with trained specialists from different banks available on different days.
The additional 13 hubs announced on Tuesday take the total number planned to 25. However, of the first wave of 12 hubs, only two are in operation: in Rochford in Essex and Cambuslang, on the edge of Glasgow.
The other 10 already announced are expected to open over the next few months. It is understood that in some cases it has been taking longer than anticipated to find a suitable property for the shared branch or get the selected building ready.
The hubs are aimed at “providing vital cash and banking services where they are needed most”, said the Cash Action Group, which includes banking industry representatives and others, and ATM network Link.
The initiative comes after continued branch and ATM closures, and concerns in some quarters that millions of people could be left behind as the shift to a cashless society accelerates.
Many of the big banks have been cutting their branch networks, arguing that customers are spurning traditional counter services in favour of banking online and via mobile phones.
UK banks and building societies have closed or announced the closure of an estimated 430 branches this year.
The newly announced hubs are planned for Brechin in Angus, Forres in Moray, Carluke in Lanarkshire, Kirkcudbright in Dumfries and Galloway, Axminster in Devon, Barton-upon-Humber in Lincolnshire, Lutterworth in Leicestershire, Royal Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire, Cheadle in Staffordshire, Belper in Derbyshire, Maryport in Cumbria and Hornsea in east Yorkshire. In addition, the first banking hub under the scheme in Northern Ireland will open in Kilkeel in Newry.
The Cash Action Group includes senior representatives from big banks including Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and NatWest.
The action group and Link said the Rochford and Cambuslang hubs “have proved extremely popular, with usage more than doubling since they have opened”.
They added: “As the impact of the cost of living crisis becomes increasingly apparent, the hubs are likely to become an ever more important resource, particularly in communities with minimal or limited cash access or banking facilities.”