COMMONS

No current plans to restrict access to cash machines

02 November 2012

The Treasury Committee has obtained confirmation from the Chief Executives of Bank of Ireland, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank, The Co-operative Banking Group, Nationwide, Northern Bank and Ulster Bank that, at present, they have no plans to restrict access to cash machines for their basic bank account customers.

The same undertaking was provided by Barclays, HSBC and Santander in the course of a Treasury Committee inquiry into access to cash machines earlier this year.

In the subsequent report of August 2012 - Access to cash machines for basic bank account holders - the Treasury Committee called on RBS and Lloyds to remove the restrictions they have imposed on customers with basic bank accounts using cash machines run by other banks or independent third parties.

Chairman Andrew Tyrie's comments

The Treasury Committee has already called on Lloyds and RBS to remove the restrictions that they have imposed on basic bank account customers. We have yet to receive a response to this recommendation.

We have now obtained confirmation from other providers of basic bank accounts that they have no plans to restrict access to cash machines for these customers. That is a step forward.

However, the letters that I received make clear that this might change.

That RBS and Lloyds should want to cut their costs is understandable. But the cash machine network is a cost shared by all banks; if one bank decides to withdraw from the system, it is more likely that others would be forced to follow suit. This is why the action taken by Lloyds and RBS could have serious repercussions.

It is not just that those affected are amongst the most vulnerable people in society. It is also that, by withdrawing, extra costs are imposed on the banks that remain, and their customers, creating an incentive for them also to withdraw. Then everyone may lose.

Image: iStockphoto

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