The National Rural Conference 2024

The Rural Services Network (RSN) is thrilled to announce the National Rural Conference 2024, taking place from 16th to 19th September. This virtual event, accessible via Zoom, is the premier gathering for senior officers, members, policymakers, and rural service professionals.
Further information and booking details can be found here

Traders in a rural town say they’re experiencing cash shortages caused by bank closures

Traders in Bromyard, Herefordshire, have told the BBC that the town has been left short of cash and ‘forced to travel miles with their takings’ after the last bank closed its doors.

Traders in Bromyard, Herefordshire, have told the BBC that the town has been left short of cash and ‘forced to travel miles with their takings’ after the last bank closed its doors.

Lloyds Bank shut more than eight months ago and, since then, shop and café owners in the town say they are struggling to get change, especially for their older customers.

Sue Meredith, who owns clothes shop Suz, told the BBC:

"There is a cashpoint at the Co-op but on the last bank holiday it was out of order all weekend.  There was nowhere here to get money.

“We've got elderly customers who do pay cash still and want to actually go to a branch and speak to a person. It's had a huge impact on the town."

Owner of the Brew café, Hannah Symonds, has the same opinion:

"They're using cash even more than before the pandemic.  We can go and get some change from the local Post Office, but it can go very quickly, so keeping on top of that is really difficult."

A recent report by Which? suggests, across the UK, banks have been shutting at a rate of 54 a month, with many citing digital alternatives and reduced footfall as the main reasons for the closure.  However, those living in rural communities, where residents often have to travel for miles to reach their nearest alternative source of cash, are also among the most reliant on it. The problem is compounded by the digital infrastructure which can be poor in these areas, making it harder for residents to embrace online banking and payments. 

It comes as Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, SNP) this week proposed a Bill aimed at safeguarding rural services by setting minimum service standards for the provision of banking and postal services in rural areas. Speaking in the Commons Chamber, Mr Hendry said:

“The role of rural communities in our nation is indispensable, preserving our environment, ensuring food security and maintaining cultural heritage, yet these communities are often sidelined, left grappling with dwindling essential services. Bank branches and post offices are not mere conveniences: they are essential lifelines connecting them to the broader social and economic network of our country.”

He acknowledged the need for digital transition but called for it to be inclusive, going on to say:

“Let us not forget that progress is not solely about thriving cities and technological innovations; it is also about our villages, towns and farmland, and the people who call those places home. The strength of our nations lies in the unity and welfare of all our communities, both rural and urban. Let us ensure that we uphold that strength by safeguarding the services that our rural communities depend on.”

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