Last week I went to see the team at Strood Community Shop Strood Community Shop – For Strood, by Strood. to speak to KMTV https://www.kentonline.co.uk/.../it-will-increase.../ about the depressing news that both Natwest and Lloyds will be closing on the 6 March 2024 and 4 April 2024 respectively. I know that this will come to as a concern to residents and businesses who still use the services that banks provide in store, particularly for disabled and elderly customers in Strood.
Natwest has sited a 72% decline in in-store customers in 2022 compared with 2019. Similarly, Lloyds have said that out of their 41,000 customers in Rochester and Strood, there are only 252 customers using the branch on a regular monthly basis.
I have long campaigned on access to cash, working with Lord Hunt and Link to install a machine in Rochester - Campaign for a Free-to-Use ATM for Rochester High Street | Kelly Tolhurst (kelly4rochesterandstrood.com) Last year I joined the NoteMachine NoteMachine Access to cash campaign as the Government introduced Access to Cash legislation as part of the wider Financial Services & Markets Bill which achieved Royal Assent in June this year.
On the back of the Government bringing forward this legislation, I am really please that today the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced new rules requiring banks and building societies to assess and plug gaps in the provision of cash in local areas to help maintain reasonable access to cash for people and businesses across the UK. So I am now working to make sure access to cash in Strood is maintained and testing if the NoteMachine Bank Hive solution would work for Strood along side services offered by the Post Office, which as Small Business Minister I worked hard to get the banks to maintain commissioning the Post Offices to deliver these services.