Today we have published guidance on the Access to Banking Standard, to help provide greater consistency in the way the Standard is applied by its signatory firms.
The Access to Banking Standard, overseen by the LSB, is designed to ensure that customers affected by branch closures receive sufficient communication and clarity on the reasons for the closure and adequate support in accessing alternative banking services. The Standard applies once the decision to close a branch has been taken for all branch closures and those where opening hours have been reduced by 30% or more over one year.
In February 2020, we published a summary report of our latest review of the application of the Standard. We noted clear improvements that firms had made since our first review in 2018, and a positive level of engagement from all firms to address the recommendations we set out in the report. As a result of this review, we committed to developing guidance to support the delivery of good outcomes.
The industry guidance published today provides non-exhaustive examples of the approach to Access to Banking that registered firms may wish to take into consideration when seeking to adhere to the Standard, including good practice examples in relation to the application of the Standard, focusing on the desired outcome for customers and stakeholders.
We recognise the FCA’s Branch and ATM closures or conversions Finalised Guidance, published in September 2020, and encourage registered firms to also refer to this guidance when considering closing or altering banking services available to customers.
We will ensure the guidance document is kept under review and will update it on an ongoing basis to continue to drive the best possible outcomes for customers impacted by bank branch closures and alterations.
Kate Evans, Aspectus Group