On 17 September 2018, the Lending Standards Board (LSB) published its summary report (the Report) on access to banking standard (the Standard), which came into effect on 1 May 2017 – replacing the access to banking protocol. The Standard is designed to ensure that customers are informed about branch closures and the reasons behind the decision to close, whilst being made aware of the options they have locally to continue to access banking services.

The Report outlines the finding  of the LSB’s review into how firms’ policies, processes, controls and governance arrangements operate in relation to the Standard. Overall compliance with the Standard has been positive, however the LSB highlighted one issue to be addressed:

  • impact assessments across the banking industry have often not been fully aligned with the Standard, improvements are recommended.

The Report further outlines more general recommendations for a number of functions impacted by the Standard, including:

  • identification of vulnerable customers – more robust tools, evidence of solutions and support for staff are recommended to improve the identification of vulnerable customers at branches that may be closing;
  • training – training programmes to prepare staff for the closure of their bank should be extended to include staff in the nearest retained branch; and
  • complaint handling – branches (that haven’t done so) should introduce new reporting categories for customer queries related to a branch closure and make customers aware of these additional categories.

The LSB intends to continue work with the industry to support the implementation of recommended enhancements highlighted in the Report.