Citizens Advice in Dorset is concerned that local communities will suffer as a result of the recent bank closures, which has left people in rural Dorset with limited access to banking services.
A survey by Citizens Advice in Dorset Research & Campaigns Group found that over a third (37%) of people said their ability to manage their finances have been impacted by bank closures, resulting in limited access and longer travel times for many. It also highlighted that over half of the people questioned didn’t use Post Office banking services.
As a result of the survey, Citizens Advice Dorset is calling for Post Offices to increase their range of available banking services at local Post Offices and for greater awareness of the range of services available.
Rovarn Wickremasinghe, from Citizens Advice in Dorset Research & Campaigns Group said: “The closure of 1 in 3 banks, has resulted in people having limited access to banking services, which is a particular concern for the older generation and the vulnerable in rural locations.”
“Post Offices offer basic banking services including cash withdrawals, balance enquiries and cash and cheque deposits, but over half of the respondents asked (64%) did not use these services, possibly because they weren’t aware that they are available.”
Internet banking is a preferred choice for many people, however the report identified 22% of the respondents are not able to use internet banking. Reasons given include poor wifi connections in rural locations or not having the skills or technology to enable internet banking – a common issue for older people and the vulnerable.
Since 2013 the temporary closures of Post Offices have almost doubled. For many people in rural communities, the Post Office is a life line. Citizens Advice is urging the government to invest now in the Autumn Spending Review to ensure that the Post Office network is able to thrive and to continue to provide essential services, including a full range of banking services.