Banks urged to protect the branch network and support customers

Date published: 01 May 2024

Finance Minister Dr Caoimhe Archibald MLA today urged banks to protect the local branch network and ensure communities impacted by branch closures are able to access banking services.

Finance Minister with representatives from high street banks, UK Finance, LINK and Cash Access UK

The Minister was commenting after a roundtable meeting was held with representatives of high street banks and UK Finance, LINK and Cash Access UK to discuss the importance of rolling out banking hubs to areas impacted by branch closures.

Speaking afterwards, Minister Archibald said: “I am concerned about the societal impacts branch closures are having on communities – particularly in hard to reach rural areas – and also the impact on staff.

“While there is a trend in many banks towards digital banking, losing a branch, or indeed several, can be a massive blow for any community – urban or rural. It is, therefore, essential that banks cater for customers in impacted communities - particularly the elderly or those on low incomes - who are reliant on branch banking and ATMs for cash and other basic banking services.

“It is important that banks work with customers in impacted towns who struggle to access digital services to make sure they have access to over the counter services, free to use ATMs and staff who have a particular knowledge of the local area and individual customers’ banking needs.

“It is vital too that banks proactively work with customers to encourage digital and financial literacy.”

The meeting, facilitated by UK Finance, enabled the Minister to hear about plans for the rollout of banking hubs in Comber, Newcastle, Warrenpoint and Portrush.

The first hub opened in Kilkeel at the end of 2023 with staff from the high street banks providing over the counter services on designated days to personal and business banking customers.

The Minister said: “I welcome the opportunity to discuss the banking hubs and how they could be further rolled out to other communities right across the North.

While the regulation of the banking sector is a Reserved Matter for the British Government, I will continue to engage with banking representatives as well as the Credit Unions, Post Office, trade unions, business bodies, consumer and community organisations and also the Treasury and the regulatory authorities  to see how the sector can best support customers.

Notes to editors: 

1.       Today’s roundtable meeting was attended by representatives of AIB, Bank of Ireland, Barclays, Danske, HSBC, Lloyd’s/Halifax, Nationwide, Santander and Ulster Bank as well as UK Finance, Cash Access UK and LINK.

2.       Media enquiries should be addressed to the Department of Finance Press Office on Tel: 028 9081 6724 or email

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4.       The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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