The British Bankers Association’s has pledged to update its Access to Banking Protocol – the guidelines covering the way banks manage branch closures – in response to an independent report by Professor Russel Griggs.

Professor Grigg’s report said banks were using the correct “robustness and rigour” when deciding whether to shut branches, but could “significantly improve” the way they engage and communicate with their customers over the closures. Many of those receiving this information [that a branch is to close] will disagree with it and be unhappy about it, I likened it to one group as a bereavement, which may seem harsh but in terms of the emotion it generates I think it is very similar.”

The Post Office can play a vital role in helping customers affected by bank closures, says Citizens Advice, Citizens Advice Chief Executive, Gillian Guy, said “Bank branches closing can have a big impact on local communities. Being able to access banking services in different ways – including over the phone and via apps – can make it easier for people to manage their finances.  But it is important to remember that there are still many people, particularly small businesses and those who don’t have access to the internet, who rely on face to face banking services to manage their finances.

“Customers need to know as soon as possible what to do if their local bank branch is going to close.  The measures recommended in this review, including specially trained bank staff to help affected customers, will mean people are better informed about how bank closures will affect them. We also welcome proposals for banks to work more closely with the Post Office – so that customers know about the range of banking services it offers. The Post Office network is well placed to support communities affected by branch closures, and could develop its range of banking services to meet consumer needs.”