PEOPLE in Wales have the second most expensive journey to their local bank branch, with the average round-trip costing £10.19, while almost one in five (19.4%) have to make a round-trip journey of over an hour, according to a new survey into the impact of branch closures.
The research, commissioned by Newcastle Building Society, found that the average journey time for people in Wales was 23 minutes. The average UK adult visits their branch in-person twice a month, while 1 in 7 (14%) go once a week. Once a common sight on every high street, since 2015 58% of Welsh bank and building society branches have closed or are set for closure in the coming year, further impacting people’s access to cash and financial services.
Newcastle Building Society has announced its survey findings as it launches a new pilot project to restore access to cash on high streets and town centres in its region. If successful, the pilot could serve as a formula for other banks and building societies across the UK to restore access to cash and financial services to communities nationally, offering hope to millions of people and small businesses across the UK.
Newcastle Building Society has announced its survey findings as it launches a new pilot project to restore access to cash on high streets and town centres in its region. If successful, the pilot could serve as a vehicle for other banks and building societies across the UK to restore access to cash and financial services to communities nationally, offering hope to millions of people and small businesses across the UK.
Collaborating with shared bank branch innovator OneBanx, the mutual is piloting the use of multi-bank kiosks in two of its branches in Gosforth, Newcastle, and Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. The kiosks allow small businesses and personal customers of any bank to withdraw and deposit cash and coins from their accounts securely by use of a mobile app, and are the first to be located within the branch of a financial services provider anywhere in the world.
The additional access to cash services provide greater convenience for personal and business customers who may otherwise have to travel significant distances in order to complete their basic banking tasks, meaning extra cost, time and loss of income.
The pilot project with OneBanx is just one part of Newcastle Building Society’s unique approach to restoring access to financial services in its heartland of the North East, Cumbria and North Yorkshire, which combines communities, technology and partnerships, and could equally support high streets and communities anywhere in the UK.
The Society’s innovative community branch concept has proved successful in a number of locations, including rural towns like Hawes, North Yorkshire and Wooler, Northumberland, where sharing space with local services such as libraries, tourist information, community centres and even the police force has enabled the Society to respond to local need and become a true part of the community.
Michael Conville, acting chief customer officer at Newcastle Building Society, said: “Our recent study shows the stark reality that, as the number of bank and building society branches closing increases, a growing proportion of UK residents have to travel more significant distances, at increasing expense, to reach their local financial services and access cash. This rise in branch closures is a concern for many as the trend continues throughout the UK and more communities become cut-adrift.
“However, we’re absolutely committed to our branch network and our innovative branch model has already proved successful, working in partnership with our communities to restore financial services. The pilot with OneBanx adds to this by providing people with convenient and secure access to their bank account, and could also provide a blueprint for other financial service providers to reinstate these much-needed facilities throughout communities across the UK.
“Time and time again our members tell us how important it is for them to be able to access local financial services, and with the pressure on living costs, I can’t think of a more important time for people to be able to pop into their local branch for a chat about money.”