Today Duncan presented his first Bill in Parliament: a Ten-Minute Rule Motion on High Street banking services.
With bank branches in some of the country's most rural and/or deprived areas closing a rate of two per day, the Bill aims to establish in law that major banks will be obligated to provide banking services through local Post Office branches. 99% of the UK population lives within three miles of a Post Office branch, and the network of 11,500 branches is already well-placed to offer these services.
It's understandable that banks need to make decisions that keep their businesses operational, but where is the corporate social responsibility? Who was it that rescued the banks during the banking crisis? It was the UK taxpayers, the very ones that are now suffering when the banks close. And I think we should further worry, because as banks continue to pull out of economically distressed areas, they are often replaced with more predatory forms of financial institution, which leaves vulnerable people at further risk. If you can't access the banking services, how many people will turn to payday lenders? We know that vulnerable people are twice as likely to have used high-cost credit because of the lack of alternatives.
He also emphasised the continued importance of access to cash for many individuals and small businesses:
The UK is not ready to go cashless. Annual volumes of cash withdrawals have grown by 46% to nearly £8bn since the start of the banking framework, and over 5m adults would struggle to go cashless. Indeed we already withdraw up to £1,500 per year.
The Bill is sponsored and supported by Duncan Baker, Sir David Evennett, Sir Graham Brady, Sir John Hayes, Jeremy Hunt, Alan Brown, Marion Fellows, Esther McVey, Robert Halfon, Steve Baker, Kevin Hollinrake, and George Freeman; and proceeds to its Second Reading tomorrow.