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Bank Services: Disadvantaged

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 15 May 2008

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps his Department is taking to encourage banks to offer banking facilities in deprived areas. (205206)

The Government continue to work in partnership with banks and other financial services providers to ensure a full range of mainstream financial services are available to people living in deprived areas.

Since 2004 the Government and the banking industry have had a shared goal of halving the number of people without access to any kind of bank account. The Family Resource Survey data for 2005-06 showed encouraging progress against this goal—800,000 adults brought into banking since 2002-03—60 per cent. of progress towards the shared goal.

In December 2007 the Government also announced that 337 new, free to access cash machines are now operating in low income areas as defined by the ATM Working Group (since December 2006), with a further 206 due to be installed in the first half of 2008. These 543 new free cash machines will benefit around 1.2 million residents, who will no longer need to pay charges or travel outside their community to withdraw cash.

To increase the availability of affordable credit the Government also announced a commitment from the banking industry to support new third sector lending provision in 25 high priority areas identified by the Financial Inclusion Taskforce.