Local shops giving cashback and Post Office's acting as a bank, the plan to fix access to cash on the high street

LOCAL shops will give out cashback and the Post Office will offer banking services, as part of a plan to fix access to cash in communities.

Thousands of free ATMs and bank branches have closed in recent years, fuelling fears that many could be cut off from accessing their money.

Today, the financial services industry has launched a trial that will see eight towns and villages across the country roll out new cash and banking services.

Local shops act like ATMs, giving cashback to customers without asking them to buy anything.

While Post Offices will be putting up new self-service screens in stores so customers don’t have to queue up to pay cash in or take it out of their account.

Plus, more ATMs will be installed in some of the communities taking part in the Community Access to Cash Pilots trial.

The areas taking part in the trial are: Button Village in North Yorkshire, Burslem in Stoke-on-Trent, Cambuslang in Lanarkshire, Denny in Falkirk, Hay-on-Wye in Powys, Lulworth Camp in Dorset, Rochford in Essex, and Milisle in Northern Ireland.

In Cambuslang and Rochford, two “bank hubs” will also be set up, which will see major banks and the Post Office put under the same roof.

These bank hubs will be located in empty high street shops or bank branches which have been closed down.

This means customers can use the bank hub as a Post Office and also talk to someone from their bank if they need financial advice.

It comes as widespread ATM and bank closures have fuelled fears that “cash deserts” are being created, especially in rural and deprived parts of the UK.

Nearly 500 cash machines, including 250 free-to-use ATMS, are being axed every month leaving millions unable to withdraw funds, according to figures from Which?.

Hundreds of bank branches are being closed as well.

Santander announced it is planning to close 111 branches by the end of August, and Marks & Spencer announced it was to close ALL current accounts and its 29 bank branches this year.

Speaking to The Sun about the new trial, Post Office cash and banking director Martin Kearsley said Brits were being let down by the financial services sector as bank branches continue to close.

He said banks “fully recognise” that customers still need to have face-to-face conversations with staff to get help with their finances – and hopes the new bank hubs initiative will help solve this issue.

Mr Kearsley added there could be up to 200 bank hubs created across the country in a matter of years if the trial goes to plan.

“Without doubt, we are facing a crisis,” he said.

“There are between two and eight million people who are totally dependent on cash each week, or for whom cash is a huge part of their weekly budgeting.

“We definitely call for a legislative programme that mandates banks and the industry to ensure access to cash is provided appropriately and in every high street.”

The trial starts this week, and will run until the end of September. 

A report will be published in early 2022 which will outline how many bank hubs will be created following the trial, and which measures worked the best.

HSBC will close 82 branches this year – here's the full list.

TSB announced it would be closing 164 branches in September last year, with the loss of more than 900 jobs.

Lloyds Bank closed 56 branches last year.

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