Julie Marson, MP for Hertford and Stortford, along with 56 MP colleagues have today written to Nikhil Rathi, Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), urging him to change the rules around banking hubs, in a bid to unlock more for areas like Hertford and Stortford.
Since the passage of the Financial Services and Markets Act (2023), the FCA has become the regulator for LINK, the body responsible for assessing a community’s access to cash needs. LINK can recommend a banking hub or a similar scheme for a particular area. However, current FCA rules mean LINK is unable to recommend a banking hub until the last bank in town closes, subject to certain exceptions, risking a community’s access to cash.
The FCA is currently consulting on proposed changes to its rules. Among these include changing the “last bank in town” rule to a rule where LINK can intervene when the second-to-last bank in town closes instead.
However, a group of MPs have urged the FCA to go further. In their letter, the 57 MPs, representing eight different parties in the House of Commons, have called on Mr Rathi “to grant LINK the ability to operate on a case-by-case basis” and argue that when “the direction of travel is clear… LINK should be able to recommend a banking hub” while “a few branches remain.”
The MPs argue that such a move would allow staff to be moved over to a banking hub more seamlessly and “ensure that a community is not plunged into a limbo period” where they lose their access to cash.
The FCA’s consultation runs until 8th February, but is primarily targeted at businesses and banks.
Commenting on the letter, Julie Marson, MP for Hertford and Stortford, said:
“This cross-party campaign is designed to unlock more banking hubs across the country, something that is becoming increasingly more important.
“While the emphasis from the relevant bodies has so far been placed on not wanting to do anything that would promote or accelerate more banking closures, if banks continue to make commercial decisions and close these branches, why not intervene sooner and prevent a situation where residents are left with no access to cash?
“I’m very grateful to all colleagues who have signed the letter. We look forward to receiving Mr Rathi’s response in due course and seeing more banking hubs on our high streets.”
Last year, Julie Marson MP shared news that her community campaign to secure a banking hub for Ware had been successful after the town lost all six of its high street banks. This will open later in 2024.
The letter is the latest action in Julie’s access to cash campaign. She currently has a survey on her website, following the recent news of the planned closure to the Barclays branch in Bishop’s Stortford, and has also set up separate Facebook groups for Sawbridgeworth, Ware, Hertford and Bishop’s Stortford where she can update residents on the work she has done to secure a banking hub in each town.