I recently chaired a meeting of South West Conservative MPs, at which we had some sub-postmasters talk to us about the new services being offered by local Post Offices. This is something of particular interest for rural areas like the Forest, as it presents a significant improvement on the services available in many of our villages.
The Post Office has been working with many of the big high street banks and building societies (including Barclays, HSBC, Halifax, Lloyds, NatWest, and Santander) to set up the Post Office Banking Framework. This framework will enable customers to carry out day-to-day transactions at every one of the 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK.
99% of UK personal banking customers and 95% of UK business banking customers will be able to withdraw and deposit cash, pay in cheques, check their balance and get change. Customers of 28 high street banks will be able to use this service.
There is also a bill payment facility which means that customers can pay their household bills, top-up their gas or electricity, add credit to their mobile or charge their budget card at any Post Office.
The rise of online banking, and consequent reduction in branch usage, has seen many banks close their branches across the country, including some areas in the Forest of Dean. These measures by the Post Office will help deal with some of the issues raised by these closures, and indeed open up services to many villages around the Forest that have never hosted a bank branch.
In rural areas like the Forest this new scheme will make banking more accessible since Post Office branches are within three miles of 98.7% of the population in rural areas. In the Forest we are lucky that a number of our villages have their own Post Office and so these changes will actually help improve access to face to face banking in areas where it wasn’t previously available.
For more information on the banking services offered by the Post Office please visit: https://www.postoffice.co.uk/branch-services.