Barclays reverses decision to end Post Office cash withdrawals

Barclays has reversed a decision to axe cash withdrawals from Post Office branches from January after a backlash from MPs and consumer campaigners.

The bank had previously announced that customers would no longer be able to make over-the-counter cash withdrawals using their debit cards from Post Office branches from January 8 2020.

But in a statement on Thursday, the bank said it will now commit to “full participation” in the Post Office’s banking framework.

Other banks and building societies have already committed fully to the three-year agreement to provide everyday banking services through the Post Office.

Barclays Group chief executive Jes Staley said: “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.

“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.”

The announcement was welcomed by the the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee.

Chairwoman Rachel Reeves said: “Barclays have finally read the writing on the wall and caved to public and political pressure to dump this woefully misguided policy.”

The committee highlighted the pressures on the Post Office in a report.

It had been calling on Barclays to reverse its decision as well as attacking a “rush” to offload Crown Post Offices to WH Smith.

The committee also called for a long-term funding commitment beyond 2021 to support the Post Office network.

The MPs said that between 2000 and 2010, 6,500 Post Office branches were closed.

A survey of sub-postmasters earlier this year suggested that up to one in five Post Offices could close because sub-postmasters were struggling to make a living, the report said.

Last week, more than 100 MPs urged Barclays to reverse its decision in a letter co-ordinated by Chris Elmore, Labour MP for Ogmore in Wales.

The cross-party group called for the bank to help end the “cash crisis” facing their constituents.

Around 15 million cash withdrawals were made by Barclays customers through the Post Office last year.

Frank Field, chairman of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, said: “Barclays have, thank goodness, realised they would not get away with cutting off yet more of their own customers after poleaxing branches in many areas.”

Consumer group Which? recently found that Barclays had closed 481 branches – around a third of its network – between the start of 2015 and August 2019.

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, 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.”

Barclays has previously announced that it plans to introduce a cashback scheme from next year involving small businesses, and has pledged not to close branches in remote areas or where it is the last bank in town for the next two years.

Economic secretary to the Treasury John Glen said: “I’m pleased that Barclays have decided to continue to offer the full range of banking services across the Post Office network of 11,500 branches.

“This will allow customers to withdraw cash, alongside existing services for depositing cash and cheques, and checking balances at their local Post Office.”

Martin Kearsley, Post Office director of banking services, said: “We’re delighted that Barclays has decided that their customers can continue to have easy and secure access to vital cash withdrawal services at our 11,500 branches.”

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