On 24 February 2020, the Lending Standards Board (LSB) published its latest summary report on the Access to Banking Standard.
The Standard replaced the ‘Access to Banking Protocol’ which the main high street banks have been following since March 2015. The Standard sets out requirements to inform customers and stakeholders about a branch closure and the reasons behind the decision to close, advising of the options they have to continue to access banking services, however they prefer to do that and providing specialist help to those that need it.
The summary report covers the latest review carried out by the LSB, assessing proposals by seven firms to close 480 branches in 2018 and 513 branches in 2019.
The LSB noted clear improvements made by firms since its previous review in 2018. Noticeable developments included enhanced communications about branch closures, the use of insights from previous closure programmes and continued engagement with the Post Office. The summary report also notes important industry-wide improvements. The first is an agreed definition of what constitutes an impacted customer. The second is agreement that the LSB will define a small number of common key metrics to be used in impact assessments.
However, the LSB has also found certain areas for improvement. This includes the need for a more proactive strategy for engaging with potentially vulnerable customers as well as enhancing the level of information available post announcement and post closure to continually assist customers.