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4 Feb 2022

Post Office to continue to offer banking services for 30 banks and building societies

Find out if your bank has signed up to the scheme offering basic banking at 11,500 Post Office branches
A Post Office branch

Millions of people who rely on cash will be able to continue using Post Office counters for everyday banking services after an agreement was renewed.

Recent Which? analysis found bank branch closures surged last year - with 736 branches closing their doors.So the Post Office agreement, in place with 30 major banks and building societies, is expected to help communities maintain vital cash access.

Here, Which? looks at which banks have signed up to the scheme and what else is being done to protect access to cash.

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How does the Post Office deal work?

Since January 2020, customers of certain banks have been able to use Post Office branches to withdraw and deposit cash in their accounts and make balance queries. Most banks will also allow you to deposit cheques.

This service, described as a 'lifeline' by the Post Office, means that people can still access essential services, even if their local bank branch has shut.

Banking at the Post Office also provides greater flexibility. There are 11,500 branches in the UK and around 99.7% of the population live within three miles of one, according to its data. And 4,000 branches open at weekends.

Between the start of 2020 and the end of 2021, business and personal customers deposited £46bn and withdrew over £16bn.This year, the Post Office expects to handle over £3bn in cash every month.

Which banks have signed up?

The new agreement, known as 'Banking Framework 3' will run for three years from January 2023 until 21 December 2025.

30 banks have signed up including:AIB, Adam & Co, Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, Bank of Scotland, Barclays, CAF Bank, Cahoot, Cashplus Bank, Co-op, Coutts, Danske, First Direct, HSBC, Halifax, Handelsbanken, Lloyds, Metro, Nationwide, Natwest, RBS, Santander, Smile, Starling Bank, TSB, Thinkmoney, Ulster, Virgin Money as well as Yorkshire Bank and Clydesdale Bank (both part of Virgin Money Group).

Which banks are missing?

Digital banks including Monzo and Revolut have not signed up for the scheme.

However, as these banks have no branches, their customers may not be impacted by branch closures in the same way as customers of bigger brands.

Monzo told Which? the majority of its customers do banking in the Monzo app - which can be accessed 24/7.

A spokesman said cash can be withdrawn from any ATM and deposited at PayPoint - which is available in over 28,000 convenience stores in the UK.

Revolut does not accept cash or cheque deposits and asks its customers to add money by another method such as a bank transfer.

What else is being done to protect cash?

In December, a raft of measures were announced by the Cash Action Group (CAG).

Major banks agreed to share some services and Link was put in charge of reviewing the impact of branch closures.

The latest Which? analysis found bank branch closures surged last year, and 221 are earmarked to shut their doors this year.

New services will be provided this year to fill the gaps that have already been identified by Link including 11 new ATMs and five shared banking hubs.

There are also initiatives such as cashback without purchase, which allows people to request cashback at the till in local convenience stores, without needing to make a purchase or pay a fee.

Only legislation can secure the future of cash

Although the renewed agreement between the Post Office and 30 banks and building societies is good news for cash access, we believe only long-promised legislation can secure the future of cash.

The banking framework is a voluntary agreement and the Post Office itself has stated this is fragile because it 'depends entirely on a commercial agreement between the banks and the Post Office to support it'.

Nick Reed, chief executive of the Post Office said: 'I'm pleased that over 30 banks have signed up to the “Banking Framework” and thank them for their continued commitment to the Post Office.

'Millions will rely on cash for many years to come. It's vital that the much-heralded Government legislation to protect access to cash is now brought forward swiftly.'

The government committed to this legislation in March 2020 and in July 2021 a consultation was launched on how cash legislation could work.

Despite closing in September, the results of this consultation have not yet been published.