From 1 April 2023, following recommendations made by the Lending Standards Board in December 2021, the LSB will no longer provide oversight of the Access to Banking Standard.
The Access to Banking Standard, an industry agreement owned by UK Finance, was designed to ensure that, once a decision to close a branch has been made, customers affected are properly informed about the closure and are given appropriate support to access alternative banking services.
In concluding our review of the Access to Banking Standard in 2021, we set out the following recommendations:
- We recommended that oversight of branch closures and changes in branch service provision, provided for through the Standard, be transitioned so that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) becomes the sole regulator overseeing branch closures.
- We recommended that UK Finance and signatory firms encourage the FCA to adopt a regulatory approach that maintains or enhances the expectations on firms set out in the Access to Banking Standard and supporting guidance.
- We recommended that signatory firms maintained their commitment to the Access to Banking Standard, to ensure that customers continued to benefit from the protections it offers, as oversight of branch closures transitioned.
- We recommended that firms supported industry efforts to provide access to in-person banking alternatives that meet the needs of personal and SME customers and take steps to support customers to use digital and physical alternatives where they are available.
These recommendations have been taken forward and, since making them, the LSB has engaged with firms, UK Finance, and the FCA to ensure that the protections in place for those customers effected by branch closures will continue to be strengthened.
In October 2022, the FCA updated its guidance on branch closures in a way that built on the good practice set out in the Standard. As a result of the FCA enhancing its guidance and oversight of branch closures, we have now fully implemented the recommendations of the review and wound down our oversight of the Standard.
You can find the FCA’s guidance on branch closures here.
You can find any of our previous publications relating to the Access to Banking Standard here.