Ruth Cadbury writes to Chancellor over local bank closures

Images above: Ruth Cadbury MP, Natwest – the latest bank to close in Chiswick

MP renews talk of introducing a ‘banking hub’ in LB Hounslow

Ruth Cadbury MP has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt calling for urgent action from the government over the scale of local bank closures across the borough of Hounslow.

In her letter, the MP for Brentford and Isleworth pointed out seven banks had closed in Chiswick, Brentford, Isleworth and Hounslow over the last four years.

She warned this was having a huge impact on both local residents and small local businesses who rely on cash, and who need in-person services. Ruth asked the Chancellor what further steps the Financial Conduct Authority would be taking and raised the role of banking hubs to make up for the loss in banking services.

Ruth said:

‘‘High Street banks are a vital part of our local community. Whether you need to set up a new direct debit, get some advice about your account, withdraw cash or simply speak with bank staff it’s clear that there is still a huge role for high street banks.

“That’s why I have been fighting against the closure of banks locally and have been working with residents to stand up against the huge scale of closures.  Isleworth and Brentford have become banking deserts which forces people to travel to either Hounslow or Chiswick if they can.

“With over seven banks closing it’s vital that the government set out what steps they’re taking both to protect local branches, but also to ensure that alternatives such as banking hubs can be set up easily. High Street banks are also a life-line for older customers, or those who don’t feel confident using telephone, online or mobile banking.

“We need urgent action to ensure that the banks that remain stay open and to ensure that residents and local businesses can continue to access crucial services.’’

Image above: Rupa Huq MP at the opening of Acton’s (and the UK’s first) banking hub

What is a banking hub?

In December last year, following the announcement that two banks, Lloyds and Nat West, would be closing in quick succession, The Chiswick Calendar asked whether it was time Chiswick had a banking hub.

READ ALSO: Does Chiswick need a ‘banking hub’?

Over the past few years Chiswick has lost banking services at Santander (2021), Barclays (2022), Halifax (2023), Lloyds as well as the most recent closures this year, leaving just the Nationwide Building Society and Metrobank offering banking services, and HSBC offering a digital service only (no counter service).

Banking Hubs are buildings where several banks share space so communities can access everyday personal and business banking services, such as withdrawing and depositing cash easily, or paying in cheques, over the counter. They are also somewhere customers can make an appointment to speak in person with a local community representative from their bank.

Representatives are on site for a specific day each week to help with more complicated transactions, such as mortgages, loans and pensions. Your local ‘community banker’ can offer debt advice and help with fraud prevention on their dedicated day of the week.

Owned by Cash Access UK, funded by the banks, and run by the Post Office, they’re billed as a way of ‘bringing back banking to the people and areas that need it’.

Labour have promised to roll out hundreds more banking hubs across the UK if they win the next general election.

Both the Conservative Government and local Tories support expanding banking hubs, though the Government claim Labour’s pledge to build hundreds more isn’t affordable.