MPs seek curb on bank closures

Sixty MPs are calling on the Government to establish a banking regulator with powers to curb the banks’ new-found zeal for closing high street branches to cut costs.

The Government says it will publish a report in the autumn, after complaints that consumers – particularly the elderly, disabled and the blind – are being affected by the closure and automation of high street banks.

MP for Reading West Martin Salter is setting up an all-party parliamentary group, after 60 MPs signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) he posted last week calling for regulations to guarantee basic banking services for local communities.

All the major high street banks are substantially cutting back their branch networks as they look to reduce costs and channel customers toward automated teller machines and direct banking methods.

Salter posted the EDM after his constituents complained about a Lloyds TSB trial in Reading, where cashiers were removed and branches became fully automated. The bank has since reversed its decision.

Salter says: “The all-party group will push for a new regulator to ensure adequate banking provision, especially for people with special needs.”

Salter adds that some existing bank branches are likely to contravene the Disability Discrimination Act 1997 when it is fully implemented in October.

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