FCA calls on banks to rethink plans to shut branches in lockdown

The FCA said it was concerned that closing bank branches at this time could have ‘significant consequences’ for customers

Banks have been urged by the City watchdog to rethink plans to shut branches during lockdown.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it was concerned that closing bank branches at this time could have ‘significant consequences’ for customers.

Banks are preparing to close at least 300 branches by the end of 2021.

Under new rules announced in September, banks should give customers at least 12 weeks’ warning before shutting a branch.

The FCA said Covid restrictions would make it harder for banks to reach all customers affected, which may include small businesses that are temporarily closed.

Sarah Coles, of Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘Banks play a vital role in many people’s lives, so customers can really struggle if a branch disappears.’

A UK Finance spokesman said the industry ‘remains committed to supporting customers through the Covid-19 crisis’.

Lobby group Which? has given banks a two-week deadline to agree to continue providing basic banking services at the Post Office after Barclays attempted to bar its customers from withdrawing cash at the Post Office to cut costs.