Labour sets out plans for hundreds of new banking hubs

Labour has set out plans for 350 banking hubs to be opened in towns and villages across Britain over the next five years, if it wins the General Election.

The party said the proposal would “breathe new life back into Britain’s high streets”.

Banking hubs allow staff from several banks to share the same space, helping to fill gaps left in the system from branch closures.

They have a counter service operated by the Post Office, allowing customers to conduct routine banking transactions.

Bank logos in a banking hub window
Banking hubs help to fill gaps left in the system from bank branch closures (Vicky Shaw/PA)

Consumer group Which? said in May that over 6,000 bank branches had closed since 2015.

Also in May, Cash Access UK, an organisation set up to help protect access to cash, announced that the 50th banking hub had opened.

Cash Access UK has previously said that it aims to reach 100 banking hubs by the end of the year.

Hubs are recommended by cash access and ATM network Link, which reviews communities based on criteria including numbers of shops, transport links and deprivation.

Cash Access UK is a not-for-profit organisation, owned and funded by major banks.

Some 132 hubs have been recommended so far by Link. Cash Access UK has delivered 56 of the hubs to date, with 76 in development.

From the day a hub is recommended, it typically takes around 12 months to open. In locations where it proves difficult to find a suitable property, Cash Access UK can open temporary hubs, providing the same services by the same team.

John Howells, Link chief executive, said: “Link has already recommended 132 banking hubs right across the UK and they are proving a very popular way of providing access to cash and basic banking for consumers and businesses who need to use a high street branch.

“I’m expecting many more to open over the coming years to protect access to cash and provide a welcome boost to high streets across the country.”

Each hub has a private area where customers can consult with staff representing their respective banks for more complex matters.

Banks participating in each hub operate on a rotational basis, ensuring the presence of staff from different banks on varying days.

Labour is proposing to update qualifying criteria for the creation of banking hubs, as well as exploring how hubs can support financial inclusion through digital training and debt advice.

The party said that it would give new powers to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and strengthen regulation to support Link to proactively source locations for new banking hubs.

Labour said the ambition was part of plans for high streets, which also included cracking down on anti-social behaviour and supporting businesses and communities.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said many high streets “have been reduced to ghost towns”.

She added: “Labour’s plan for growth means bringing banking back to high streets, with hundreds of new banking hubs that can support local communities and their businesses.”

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader and shadow housing secretary, said: “With our plan to bring banking back to the high street, replace business rates and cut energy bills for good, we will breathe new life back into Britain’s high streets.”

Bim Afolami, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: “The Conservatives have a clear plan to protect access to cash. We have taken the bold action to ensure we are on track to deliver 225 more banking hubs, ensuring peace of mind and financial security for people.”