James Grundy MP: Banking access is so important
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Banking Hubs are a new alternative to the traditional bank.
The hubs host many of the main banks in one site and serve many who would otherwise find online banking or travelling a long distance impossible.
Chris Green MP and I are working to get one set up in Atherton too.
Myself and 56 other MPs have written a joint letter to Nikhil Rathi, Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), urging him to change the rules around banking hubs, in a bid to unlock more for areas like Leigh.
Since the passage of the Financial Services and Markets Act (2023), the FCA have become the regulator for LINK, the body responsible for assessing a community’s access to cash needs.
LINK can recommend a banking hub or a similar scheme for a particular area.
However, current FCA rules mean LINK are unable to recommend a banking hub until the last bank in town closes, subject to certain exceptions, risking a community’s access to cash.
The FCA are currently consulting on proposed changes to their rules.
Among these include changing the “last bank in town” rule to a rule where LINK can intervene when the second-to-last bank in town closes instead.
However, we have urged the FCA to go a step further. The 57 MPs, representing eight different parties in the House of Commons, have called on Mr Rathi “to grant LINK the ability to operate on a case-by-case basis” and argue that when “the direction of travel is clear… LINK should be able to recommend a banking hub” while “a few branches remain.”
We are arguing that such a move would allow staff to be moved over to a banking hub more seamlessly and “ensure that a community is not plunged into a limbo period” where they lose their access to cash.
The FCA’s consultation runs until February 8 but is primarily targeted at businesses and banks.
Chris Green and I called for banking hub provision for Atherton which we both represent based on the already ongoing proposals for similar banking hubs in Westhoughton and Horwich.