It is a sad fact that the number of high street bank branches in local communities is diminishing. In East Hampshire, some have closed in recent months, including HSBC in Alton, and some are earmarked for closure later this year, e.g. Lloyds in Liphook. From the banks' point of view, these closures are necessary as there just aren't the numbers using them anymore to make the branches commercially viable.
Many of us now bank online or via our telephones and do so confidently. We therefore have little need to visit a physical bank branch. However, for those who choose not to use online or telephone banking or don't have the means to do so, branches remain an important way of managing household tasks, such as paying bills, or seeking advice on financial matters, such as probate and mortgages.
While I do not have the power to stop banks from closing their branches, I think it's essential that we campaign for decent alternative provision for those customers that need it. This could be maintaining the network of post office 'everyday banking' counters as a minimum and looking to extend the services they can provide to customers to try and fill the gaps left by branch closures.
We also need to look at the community hub scheme Cash Access UK - Home. I'm currently making the case for a community hub in East Hampshire so watch this space for updates.
Thinking outside the box here will be important too. So looking at whether counter facilities can be provided from existing facilities in the community - for example the Barclays counter in Petersfield Library.
We need to put the pressure on banks to make sure that those customers who value and need a physical banking presence, get one.
Community Banker scheme for Liphook
On 28 September 2023, a new community banking scheme (Community Bankers | Lloyds Bank) will open its doors in Liphook (following the closure of the branch there). The Community Banker will be based in the Liphook Millennium Centre on Thursdays 09:00-15:00.