In the past two years, almost 400 communities have been told that their last remaining bank branch is closing.

This has already impacted my constituents, with several banks closing across Hampstead and Kilburn.

There is a real concern that many communities have become banking deserts, with a distinct lack of access to in-person banking services.  

My biggest concern is about the impact on elderly people, as well as the poorest and most vulnerable members of the community, who often choose to bank mostly or entirely in person.

Some people find it difficult or even impossible to travel to a branch that is further away, and they will be concerned about being able to access their finances and complete transactions in light of branch closures.

In fact, around 10 million people in the UK still rely on their local bank branch for access to cash and financial advice and support.

Ham & High: MP Tulip Siddiq says that people need in-person bankingMP Tulip Siddiq says that people need in-person banking (Image: Tulip Siddiq)

On top of this, many small businesses have raised concerns about the time they waste travelling to pay in money and access the services they need. This is impacting their opening hours and reducing the amount of time they can spend serving their community.

We also know that when people bank locally it provides a much-needed boost to our struggling high streets.  

As Shadow City Minister, I have been working on Labour’s plans to bring these vital banking services back to communities that have seen them disappear.  

While unfortunately the Government have delivered only a handful of banking hubs, Labour’s plan to empower the Financial Conduct Authority to guarantee communities access to face-to-face banking services will see at least 350 banking hubs quickly established on high streets.

These hubs would be shared by major banks, so customers from almost every bank can access face-to-face banking services. These will help people deposit and withdraw cash, as well as get crucial financial advice.  

It is fantastic news that local councillors have ensured that a banking hub is on the way in Willesden, which will be a source of relief for residents who rely on face-to-face banking.

Unfortunately, progress has been far too slow. Under Labour, these would be rolled out much more quickly across the country.  

It is vitally important that we don’t allow people to be left behind by bank branch closures and Labour has plans to ensure that this doesn’t happen.

  • Tulip Siddiq is Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn.