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Banking Services

Volume 406: debated on Wednesday 11 June 2003

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To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he is taking through the work of the (a) Social Exclusion Unit and (b) Neighbourhood Renewal Unit to ensure that banking services, including ATMs, are available and accessible to all sectors of the community. [118159]

The Social Exclusion Unit examined the issue of access to financial services in deprived areas in Policy Action Team 14 (led by Her Majesty's Treasury), within the framework of the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal. Much of the current work across Government on areas such as credit unions, basic bank accounts and universal banking services results from this work.Within the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal, a £15 million Deprived Urban Post Office Fund was established (Commitment 15), managed by the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit, that operates to help keep post offices open in England's most deprived urban areas. Post offices are often the only accessible financial service in the most deprived communities and they are used disproportionately by the more disadvantaged members of society, including those on low incomes and by the elderly.The Post Office network now also offers access to basic bank accounts through the Universal Banking Services (Commitment 13), which are being promoted by the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Work and Pensions and the Post Office. These services will give an important boost to financial inclusion as they will help to give the estimated 3.5 million adults in the UK currently without bank accounts access to them.