‘Barclays Betrayal’ of post offices sparks furyPostal October 9 2019
A shock decision by banking giant Barclays to withdraw its cash services from the nation’s post offices has provoked a wave of condemnation from politicians, consumer groups, community groups and the CWU.
“We’ve just heard that, from next January, Barclays bank account holders will no longer be able to access cash from our country’s 11,500 post offices,” wrote CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey in a letter to branches yesterday evening.
Speaking further on the matter, Andy explained: “At a time when high street bank branches have been closing at a rapidly increasing pace – Barclays themselves have axed 481 over the past five years, which amounts to around a third of its network – at least post offices have been able to pick up some of the slack, by offering over-the-counter personal services for people and small businesses.
“But this sudden decision – whether driven by cost cutting or other reasons, just abandons their own customers, while also impacting negatively on our own members and their jobs.
“It’s not surprising that some people are already calling this ‘the Barclays Betrayal’.”
Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, who chairs the influential Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee at Westminster, has also sharply criticised the bank’s abandonment of the high street.
Calling on the bank to “think again,” Ms Reeves slammed the “unjustifiable decision to stop customers accessing their own money from post offices” and described it as a “deeply retrograde step which lets down their customers, potentially leaving people in many places without access to their own cash, and which undermines the post office network.”
The BEIS Chair also warned that the bank risked “forgetting their wider social responsibilities” and that access to free bank withdrawals was “vital to people, especially those who are elderly and vulnerable.”
Andy has warmly welcomed the BEIS Chair’s robust intervention, and has announced plans to also speak with the Shadow Post Office Minister Gill Furniss in order to “see what further pressure can be placed on the Government to call upon Barclays to reverse this appalling decision.”
The withdrawal of Barclays services from post offices has wider implications as well, he continues, citing the potential that this could put in jeopardy post office services due to the negative impact on earnings for the already hard-pressed postmasters “and this could tip the balance on whether Postmasters can realistically continue to run post offices.
“Postmaster earnings have already declined significantly in recent years and this amounts to another blow – accordingly we call upon the Post Office to refrain from passing on this loss of income to our postmasters, who provide such a vital public service.”
In order to fully secure the future of our post offices – and also to provide a long term solution to issues of financial exclusion as well as assisting small businesses – a post Bank is an urgent necessity and the Barclays decision, according to Andy, “further demonstrates why it is absolutely necessary for the Post Office to establish and operate a Post Bank, which is a key and fundamental Labour Party policy.”