The Government welcomed the industry-wide Access to Banking protocol announced in March 2015. The Government believes that banks should act in the best interests of their customers and continue to serve the needs of the consumer as well as the wider economy. Although decisions on opening and closing branches are commercial ones, in which the Government does not intervene, it is imperative that the banks live up to the spirit, as well as the letter, of the commitments in the protocol.
The British Bankers’ Association consulted relevant government departments and the regulator, as envisaged in the protocol, when it appointed Professor Russel Griggs to lead the independent review. The independent reviewer’s role is to consider and identify best practice in implementation and, if appropriate, make recommendations for amendments to the protocol to ensure it continues to meet its objectives.
The Government has not assessed the impact of the protocol or banks’ compliance with their commitments in the protocol and as such will not submit formal evidence. However, the Government awaits the independent review’s conclusions, and any recommendations that the reviewer makes for the future of the protocol, when they are published later this year.