Relief at Barclays u-turn on cutting cash lifeline for small towns
- Credit: Archant
A bank has reversed its controversial decision to stop its customers using post offices to withdraw cash from their accounts.
There were fears the move by Barclays Bank could leave customers - particularly those who are older and rely on cash - vulnerable because they would have lost the ability to get hold of their money.
Banking giants, including Barclays, have been closing branches in market towns across the region - and have often told their customers that they will still be able to get cash from local Post Offices.
Barclays was planning on ending that service - but following pressure from campaigners including South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, it has now changed its mind.
Chief executive Jes Staley said: "Our decision provoked a great deal of public and private debate.
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"We have listened very carefully to points that have been made to us by ministers in the government, by MPs, and by interested charities and consumer advocates.
"Ultimately we have been persuaded to rethink our proposals by the argument that our full participation in the Post Office Banking Framework is crucial at this point to the viability of the Post Office network.
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"Whilst we have concerns regarding the sustainability of relying on this model in the longer term, and want to work with government and others to address the problems inherent in it, we recognise that the Post Office is a network valued by many communities in the UK today.
"So we have amended our position, and will now maintain a full service proposition in the Post Office for our customers, including cash withdrawals using a debit card, for the next three years."
Mr Cartlidge had written to Mr Staley to ask him to reconsider the original decision, saying he found it "worrying".
He also argued in his letter that it would "have an adverse effect on those individuals in rural areas who only have access to cash through the post office in their village".
Had it gone ahead, the change would have come into effect on January 8 2020.
However Barclays said it had a "comprehensive package of measures to ensure that none of our customers would be without access to cash".
Before the U-Turn one 84-year-old Barclays customer in Lavenham said: "I rely on the Post Office to get cash from my Barclays account. I'm fortunate. I can still drive - but I know many people who live here who have no alternative but to use the local Post Office."
Market Day closure sparks anger in Sudbury
Barclays has left customers and businesses in Sudbury baffled by its decision to close the branch on Thursdays - market day and one of the two busiest days of the week in the town.
The branch is now closed every Thursday when shoppers flock to the town and businesses have their busiest day of the week.
Deputy mayor and Jack Owen said: "When I was told the bank was closed on Thursdays, I couldn't believe it - but it was clearly shut when I went there today. Whoever made this decision has clearly never been to Sudbury."
South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge was irritated that he had not been told about the decision to close Sudbury's branch on Thursdays when he wrote to the bank about the end of the post office cash arrangements.
He said: "Thursday is market day and this is not only very inconvenient, it is a lack of courtesy in the context of ongoing correspondence not to give me some warning. I will be contacting Barclays again to demand an explanation. My constituents deserve better than this from one of the country's largest financial institutions".