AGE UK recently published a report which highlights the continuing demand for face-to-face banking services among older people.

As CEO of Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington, I want to stress the importance of physical banking services for those who do not, or cannot, bank online.

The report, entitled “You can’t bank on it anymore”, found that 39 per cent of older people with a bank account are not managing their money online and could be at high risk of financial exclusion.

Furthermore, 75 per cent of over-65s with a bank account want to undertake at least one banking task in person at a bank branch, building society, or Post Office.

The disappearance of faceto-face banking risks cutting a significant minority of the older population out of an essential service, making it difficult, if not impossible, for them to manage their money and maintain their independence.

With swathes of local branches closing, we need to ensure that physical spaces – whether a bank or building society branch, Banking Hub, or alternative suitable provision – continue to exist so people can still carry out face-to-face tasks such as withdrawing and depositing cash, applying for a loan, arranging third-party access to their account, or starting bereavement proceedings.

We’re calling on the banks to accelerate the roll-out of Shared Banking Hubs, with a High Street presence, to meet the high and continuing demand for face-toface banking services.

Banking Hub pilots are a relatively new solution to the problem but have so far worked extremely well and are proving popular with the communities in which they are based.

However, Age UK is keen for the roll-out to speed up to avoid more communities becoming ‘banking deserts’, with no face-to-face banking services or ATMs in place, leaving many older people feeling isolated and disenfranchised.

It is also imperative that the Treasury recognises the importance of protecting physical banking services.

With around 2.4m older people reliant on cash, an inability to access cash locally can prevent older people from going out or using the services they rely on, resulting in them feeling frustrated and left behind.

Many older people view cash as the most reliable and straightforward way to pay for goods and services, as well as an effective means of managing their weekly budget when money is extremely tight.

We urge the Treasury to include provision to ensure continued access to face-to-face services in its upcoming ‘cash access policy statement’.

This would secure a legacy for all the hard work that has gone into developing the Banking Hub model and would send a strong signal that the Government is on consumers’ side.

Helen Hunter, CEO, Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington