The petition of residents of Glasgow North,
Declares that proposed closure of the Partick branch of the TSB bank in Glasgow will have a detrimental effect on local communities and the local economy.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges her Majesty’s Treasury, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and TSB Bank to take in account the concerns of petitioners and take whatever steps they can to halt the planned closure of this branch.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Patrick Grady, Official Report, 20 October 2020; Vol. 682, c.1033.]
A petitions in the same terms was presented by the hon. Member for Glasgow North West (Carol Monaghan) [P002613]
Observations from The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (John Glen):
The Government thank the hon. Members for Glasgow North (Patrick Grady) and for Glasgow North West (Carol Monaghan) who have recently submitted petitions opposing a bank branch closure on behalf of their constituents.
The Government are sorry to hear of constituents’ disappointment at the planned closure of the TSB branch in Partick.
The way consumers interact with their banking is changing. Two-thirds of UK adults have used contactless payments, 72% have used online banking and 48% have used mobile banking, according to UK Finance. The Government cannot reverse the changes in the market and in customer behaviour; nor can they determine firms’ commercial strategies in response to those changes. Having the flexibility to respond to changes in the market is what makes the UK's financial services sector one of the most competitive and productive in the world, and the Government want to protect that.
As with other banking service providers, TSB will need to balance customer interests, market competition, and other commercial factors when considering its strategy. Although I can understand constituents’ dissatisfaction, decisions on opening and closing branches are taken by the management team of each bank on a commercial basis. The petition requests that the Government take steps to halt the planned closure of this branch, however, the Government hope that the hon. Members can appreciate that it would be inappropriate for the Government to intervene in these decisions.
However, the Government also firmly believe that the impact of branch closures should be understood, considered, and mitigated where possible so that all customers, wherever they live, continue to have access to over the counter banking services.
As the hon. Members may know, the major high street banks signed up to the Access to Banking Standard in May 2017, which commits them to ensure customers are well informed about branch closures, the bank’s reasons for closure and options for continued access to banking services. Alternative options for access might include the Post Office which allows 95% of business and 99% of personal banking customers to deposit cheques, check their balance and withdraw and deposit cash at 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK.
In September 2020, the financial conduct authority (FCA) published guidance setting out its expectation of firms when they are deciding to reduce the number of physical branches or the number of free-to-use ATMs. Firms are expected to carefully consider the impact of a planned closure on their customers’ everyday banking and cash access needs, and other relevant branch services and consider possible alternative access arrangements. This will ensure the implementation of closure decisions is done in a way that treats customers fairly. The guidance can be found at https://www.fca.org.uk/publication/ finalised-guidance/fg20-03.pdf
Should constituents decide to switch banks, they can do so through the current account switch service (CASS). 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, providing further assurance for customers. This means that customers are more able than ever to hold their banks to account by voting with their feet, and that banks are incentivised to work hard to retain their existing customers and attract new ones. More information about CASS is available at: www.currentaccountswitch.co.uk
The Government cannot intervene in firms’ commercial strategies in response to changes in the market. The Government understand that access to physical banking continues to be important to many communities and will continue to work with industry, the Post Office and the FCA to ensure everyone can access essential banking services.