Labour announces plan to save the high-street with 350 'banking hubs'
Labour has confirmed its plan to stop back branch closures in a bid to save the high-street from erasure. The announcement comes after Lloyds Banking Group, which owns Lloyds, Halifax & Bank of Scotland - confirmed an additional 45 branches will close in 2024, bringing the group total to at least 276 sites in two years.
Almost half of bank branches in the UK have shut since 2015, with some regions such as the South West and Yorkshire losing nearly two thirds of their bank branches, according to Which?. In whole of England there are now just 3,208 bank branches.
Keir Starmer's party is pledging to bring much needed banking services back to communities, allowing customers to access face-to-face support. Rachel Reeves MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: “Labour’s plan will bring banking services back to communities who have seen them disappear over recent years, meaning more people across the country will be able to access the services they need closer to home.
“Labour will tackle ghost high streets and ensure that every community has access to high street banking services.”
Labour announced the new policy alongside the release of its Plan for Small Businesses. Labelled ‘The Beating Heart of our Economy’, the economic roadmap was announced in Essex as part of a series of small business events across the country.
What is Labour's plan?
Labour has confirmed it plans to accelerate the roll out of ‘banking hubs’ which help people deposit and take out cash as well as get support and help with wider banking services. Labour also pledges to work with banks and, where necessary, bring in new powers for the Financial Conduct Authority to stop people being left in ‘banking deserts’, guaranteeing communities access to face-to-face banking services.
Labour has forecast at least 350 banking hubs could come to be established on local high streets and, with customers from almost every bank able to use the hubs. Areas in the UK which don't have a high street bank will be first in the queue, accordion to Labour.
As part of a wider package to save UK's declining high-streets, Labour pledge to give councils more power to tackle dormant shops alongside introducing dedicated police patrols to tackle antisocial behaviour and shoplifting.
Finally, Labour has announced it plans to throw out business rates in pursuit of a fairer while giving more support to small businesses by ending late payments.