Labour pledges to bring banks back to the high street guaranteeing access to face-to-face banking in every community, by staff reporter

Labour will today pledge to stop the decline of the great British high street and bring much needed banking services back to communities. The party has announced the ambitious new policy alongside the release of its Plan for Small Businesses to ensure working people and local businesses have banking services on their high streets again.

Labour will accelerate the roll out of ‘banking hubs’ which help people deposit and take out cash as well as get support and help with wider banking services. Labour will work with banks and, where necessary, bring in new powers for the Financial Conduct Authority to stop people being left in ‘banking deserts’ guaranteeing communities access to face-to-face banking services.

While the Conservatives have delivered just a handful banking hubs, Labour’s plan could see at least 350 banking hubs established on local high streets and, as hubs are shared by the major banks, customers from almost every bank can use the hub.

As part of Labour’s pledge, areas that currently don’t have high street banks will be first in the queue.

The plans come as Labour reveals the shocking lack of banking services available on British high streets. Almost half of bank branches in the UK have shut since the Conservatives won their majority in 2015, with some regions such as the South West and Yorkshire losing nearly two thirds of their bank branches. In whole of England there are now just 3,208 bank branches. 

Alongside their plans to bring back banking to communities Labour will also back the great British high street with their plans to:

* Give councils the power to tackle shuttered up shops
* Tackle antisocial behaviour and shoplifting through dedicated police patrols
* Replace business rates with a fairer system
* End late payments to support small businesses.

The announcement comes as Labour this week launched ‘The Beating Heart of our Economy’ – Labour’s Plan for Small Businesses – in Essex at the first of Labour’s regional small business roadshows to be held across the country. The plan sets out Labour’s blueprint to create a long-term environment in which businesses succeed and scale up.

Rachel Reeves MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, said:

“Labour’s plan will bring banking services back to communities who have seen them disappear over recent years, meaning more people across the country will be able to access the services they need closer to home.

“Labour will tackle ghost high streets and ensure that every community has access to high street banking services.”