City watchdog to ensure banks have access to cash across the UK

The city watchdog will be empowered to ensure that local communities across the UK have access to cash and can ultimately penalize banks that do not comply.

Under the government’s pending financial services bill, the Financial Conduct Authority will be responsible for ensuring that the UK’s largest banking and construction communities have access to consumers’ withdrawal and deposit facilities, such as ATMs, at a “reasonable” distance from their communities.

The Guardian understands that the FCA can impose fines if lenders fail to maintain these facilities in accordance with legislation, but what counts as a reasonable distance has yet to be confirmed.

The rules will also stop protecting bank branches, and more likely will mean banks are providing access to free-to-use ATMs, Post Offices or mobile banking centers.

Lloyds Banking Group, which also owns the Halifax and Bank of Scotland brands, confirmed its plans to close 28 more branches, while leaving the group with 1,387 sites across the UK.

Nearly 5,000 bank and building society branches have disappeared from the UK’s main streets since 2015, resulting in the UK’s branch network being nearly halved. consumer group.

The government’s announcement about the FCA was welcomed by campaigners who have long warned that dwindling cash facilities in the UK are putting elderly and vulnerable people at risk who find it difficult to keep bank accounts online.

Access to cash has also become more important during banking disruptions that can hinder card transactions and online bank transfers. The Treasury said about 5.4 million adults use and rely on cash on a daily basis.

Natalie Ceeney, head of the Cash Review Access and Cash Action Group, said she was pleased to see the government act quickly after the Queen’s speech last week. We need to see the full consultation response to better understand how legislation will work in practice,” she said.

“Importantly, I am pleased that so much work has been done on this in the last few years and that lots of all colors are recognizing the importance of access to cash. It is vital that we all work together to achieve the best results for consumers and small businesses.”