Banking giant Barclays will climb down on its cash withdrawal ban which angered thousands of customers this week.
Customers of the bank will now be able to continue to take money out over the counter at thousands of Post Office branches, after plans had been announced to axe the service.
Speaking today Barclays Group CEO Jes Staley said they had listened to government ministers, charities and advocates, and have now gone back on their decision.
‘Ultimately we have been persuaded to rethink our proposals by the argument that our full participation in the Post Office Banking Framework is crucial at this point to the viability of the Post Office network.’
More than 15million cash withdrawals were carried out by the bank’s customers at post offices last year
The bank had previously said that it would have saved it around £7million a year and that it was entirely commercial.
The decision however has not removed concerns from the bank, on the sustainability of the model.
Mr Staley added: ‘Whilst we have concerns regarding the sustainability of relying on this model in the longer term, and want to work with Government and others to address the problems inherent in it, we recognise that the Post Office is a network valued by many communities in the UK today.
‘So we have amended our position, and will now maintain a full service proposition in the Post Office for our customers, including cash withdrawals using a debit card, for the next three years.’
CEO Jes Staley (pictured above) said the bank was reversing the decision but still questioned the sustainability of the model
Consumer group says decision will be a ‘relief’ for customers
Following the announcement that customers of Barclays will be able to continue to take money out over the counter at Post Officer branches head of money at Which? says it’s an issue of ‘cash fragility’.
Gareth Shaw said: ‘Barclays’ decision to bow to public pressure and reverse this move will be a massive relief for its customers, who have seen almost 500 high street branches close over the last four years.
‘This issue highlights the fragility of our cash infrastructure in the UK, with no safety net for people affected when a company makes a damaging commercial decision – like cutting cash withdrawals from the post office network.
‘The industry cannot be relied on to prevent people being stripped of access to cash and vital financial services, so the government must urgently intervene with legislation that protects cash for as long as it is needed.’
FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry today said: ‘Barclays has made the right decision. The Post Office can only fulfil the vital role we need it to play in our cash network if all the banks are behind it.
‘This decision will come as a huge relief to its small business customers, many of which have been left in the lurch by bank branch closures and are reliant on post offices for cash deposit and withdrawal facilities.’
It comes as city minister John Glen became the fourth Government minister to wade in on the argument.
He said yesterday that customers are free to leave the bank whose decision is purely commercial and aimed at saving £7million per year.
It is more than two weeks since Barclays announced a ban on customers withdrawing their savings at the Post Office.
Many customers threatened to quit the bank unless bosses reversed the decision.
It previously emerged that Barclays had lost 80,000 current accounts in the year to June, with only Halifax shedding more. Mr Glen, replying to a written Commons question from Lib Dem MP Jane Dodds, said: ‘If Barclays customers value withdrawing cash over the counter using the Post Office, they may wish to consider switching to an alternative bank.
Business secretary Andrea Leadsom, pictured, is one of four ministers to have criticised Barclays bank after the firm announced it was no longer going to allow customers to withdraw cash from the Post Office
He added: ‘Customers are more able than ever to hold their banks to account by voting with their feet, and that banks are incentivised to work hard to retain their existing customers and attract new ones.’
His comments follow private interventions from the Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom and Post Office minister Kelly Tolhurst with Barclays executives.
Lord Duncan, a minister in the business department, said earlier this week the bank had been told in ‘words of only one syllable’ that its behaviour was unacceptable.
More than 120 MPs accused it of abandoning vulnerable customers and adding to the cash crisis.
The bank has closed around 490 branches over five years. More than 15million cash withdrawals were carried out by the bank’s customers at post offices in 2018.
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