Access to finance in rural communities
To be held Monday, November 4, at Furniture Makers’ Hall
Sir Mark Boleat
John Howells (LINK)
Russel Griggs (SOSEP)
Martin Kearsley (Post Office)
Bank branches have been closing at an alarming rate, according to a recent Which? report*, and the worst affected areas are rural. This chimes with the work done by the LINK Scheme, which runs our nationwide ATM network, and Prof Russel Griggs, whose report, “Access to Cash in Rural Communities”, was published earlier this year. It can be found at: https://www.link.co.uk/media/1474/access-to-cash-in-rural-communities-march-2019.pdf
Physical solutions to the withdrawal of bank branches from rural communities obviously include LINK’s cash machines, and also the Post Office (which still has a network of 11,500 branches across the UK). But neither offers the same range of services as a bank. So, how can we make sure that those who live outside the major metropolitan areas continue to have access to the kinds of financial services that most of us take for granted? This debate also involves access to the internet and issues of financial and digital exclusion. On the banks’ side, cost-cutting has been one way to restore profitability after the financial crisis. When they are roped into public interest roles, such as providing a basic bank account, this tends to cost them money. At the same time, however, they must accept that the safety net which financial regulation provides comes at the price of social responsibility; banks have a societal role to play that they cannot ignore.
This is a tricky area – but an important one, and a politically-sensitive one. To kick off what promises to be a lively discussion, we have three panellists:
Sir Mark Boleat, who chairs LINK. He was previously chairman of the City of London’s Policy and Resources Committee, and had leadership roles at the BSA, the CML and the ABI. He also chairs the board of Eldon Insurance.
Prof Russel Griggs, who chairs the South of Scotland Economic Partnership and Scotland’s independent Regulatory Review Group. He is also an honorary Professor at the University of Glasgow.
Martin Kearsley, who is the Banking Director at the Post Office, which he joined in 2015. He has also served on the executive teams and boards of several IT companies, including Vocalink, the UK central switch company, Datacard in the US, and Monitise, the mobile banking company.
If you (or a colleague) would like to join us, please email email@example.com or call the Centre on 020 7621 1056. As usual, there will be a sandwich lunch.
*The Which? report can be found at: https://www.which.co.uk/money/banking/switching-your-bank/bank-branch-closures-is-your-local-bank-closing-a28n44c8z0h5