The Town Council is taking action to raise awareness of the availability of post office banking services for residents and businesses, as more bank branches close nationally and a recent survey highlights the continued preference for in-person banking by a large number of people.
According to a survey conducted by professional services company Accenture in March, around a third of people would rather carry out all their banking in person and many people still prefer to attend their local bank branch in person to obtain financial advice and financial services amid cost-of-living pressures, despite increasingly being able to access them online.
Although over 40% of people aged 55 and over would rather visit a branch in-person, the survey of more than 2,400 banking customers concluded that it is not just the older generations who are reluctant to switch to mobile or online banking. Around 20% of 18 to 34-year-olds stated that they prefer to carry out their banking in person according to the survey.
Interestingly, more cash was handled by the Post Office in March than any month since last September (excluding Christmas) and recent figures showed cash deposits and withdrawals over the counter reached well over £3 billion during March, across its 11,500 branches.
People are increasingly accessing their local post office to manage money as a result of some banks closing branches, which, in some towns, can make it “the only location where consumers can do their banking,” the survey stated.
The National Federation of Sub Postmasters (NFSP) believes post offices can play a pivotal role in ensuring people and businesses experience as little detriment as possible from these bank branch closures.
The Town Council wishes to assure residents that normal bank transactions can be carried out in branch at the town centre Post Office located at 10 High Street, including business deposits.
Residents can access their high street bank accounts at the post office – this service is free of charge and, provided customers have their debit card with them, they can check your balance and withdraw or deposit cash. If you don’t have a debit card, some banks will still allow you to deposit cash via the Post Office, if you have a deposit slip.
The Post Office’s free everyday banking service is available to both businesses and individuals.
However, customers cannot transfer money from their account at the Post Office, or get advice on savings, credit, mortgages or other forms of lending offered by your bank. For these, you will need to contact your bank direct or visit in-branch. Information on which banks offer what services at the Post Office is available online at https://www.postoffice.co.uk/everydaybanking.
“Many banks tell us that changes in customer behaviour have been the driving force and principal reason for bank branch closures,” said John Harrison, Town Clerk and Postmaster of the Hailsham High Street Post Office.
“An increasing number of people bank online and consequently make far fewer visits to branches. Whilst we fully understand the considerable uptake in the use of online banking in recent years, there is still a significant number of people, particularly the elderly, who like to visit their branches and bank in person.”
“This is where we continue to help, with transactions for customers of other banks and building societies too.”
This year marks the 5-year anniversary of the Town Council acquiring the franchise for and ultimately saving the town centre post office from closure. In setting its budget in 2018, the Town Council agreed to take over the post office if other franchise applications were unsuccessful, to protect the service and the staff.
Subsequently, the Town Council took over the lease of the premises located at 10 High Street, before arranging a complete refurbishment of the new post office and official opening in July 2019.
Hailsham Town Council is believed to be the first council in the UK to operate a post office.
Operating 51 hours of post office service a week (different times during the pandemic), the modern, open-plan premises provides all the standard counter services with four serving positions, and the same wide range of Post Office products and services are available, including the aforementioned banking services for personal customers and small businesses.
Terry Hall, Communications Officer
Hailsham Town Council, Market Street, Hailsham, East Sussex, BN27 2AE
Telephone: 01323 841702 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org