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Barclays Bank branch on Woodhill (Leicester)

Volume 602: debated on Monday 16 November 2015

The petition of residents of Leicester East,

Declares that local Barclays Bank customers are greatly concerned that their local Barclays Bank branch on Woodhill (Leicester) will be closed in the coming months and further that residents of Woodhill and the surrounding area fear that they will have to travel much further to an alternative Barclays branch in Leicester city which poses serious difficulties for some residents.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage Barclays Bank to reconsider the decision to close the Woodhill Branch in Leicester, as there are no other Barclays branches in the vicinity.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Keith Vaz, Official Report, 17 September 2015; Vol. 599, c. 1298.][P001546]

Observations from The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Harriett Baldwin): The Government thanks the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) for his petition on the planned closure of the Barclays branch on Woodhill in North Evington.

The Government are sorry to hear about the disappointment of the residents of Leicester East at the planned closure of their local Barclays branch. Although we can understand their concerns, decisions on opening and closing agencies are taken by the management team of each bank on a commercial basis. As with other banking service providers, Barclays will need to balance customer interests, market competition, and other commercial factors when considering its strategy and the Government do not seek to intervene in these decisions.

However, the Government believe that banks should act in the best interests of their customers and continue to serve the needs of the consumer as well as the wider economy. In March this year, the major high street banks, consumer groups and the Government signed up to an industry-wide agreement to work with customers and communities to minimise the impact of branch closures and put in place alternative banking services. This protocol commits the banks to:

work with local communities to establish the impact of the branch closure, prior to its closure;

find suitable alternative provision to suit individual communities;

put satisfactory alternative banking services in place before a branch is closed.

Options for this will include free to use cash machines, the proximity of alternative branches, and Post Office branches and mobile banking arrangements.

The protocol will be reviewed by an independent reviewer after one year.

It may be useful to note that many bank account providers already have an arrangement with the Post Office to provide access to their bank accounts, where customers can withdraw money, deposit cash and cheques and check balances at all 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK.

If other banks in the local area have more extensive facilities, and the residents of Leicester East wish to consider moving to an alternative bank, they may be interested in using the current account switch service. The switch service is free to use, comes with a guarantee to protect customers from financial loss if something goes wrong, and redirects any payments mistakenly sent to the old account for 36 months, providing further assurance for customers.