by Sarah Lee

Barclays bank has announced that is pulling out of the agreement banks have with Post Offices to allow customers to withdraw cash and deposit money.

The Post Office has unveiled a new agreement with 28 banks and building societies, covering the three years from January and allowing for postmasters and post mistresses to be paid more to take in and dispense cash. Barclays is the only one to exclude cash withdrawals from its part of the agreement. Barclays will let its customers deposit money, but not withdraw cash from a Post Office counter using a debit card.

The Countryside Alliance is alarmed by this shocking decision that will leave many rural businesses and communities, who are Barclays customers, without access to cash. This decision comes at a time when access to money and finance in rural areas is increasingly difficult and we should be working to ensure the viability of Post Offices in rural areas not undermine them.

20 per cent of the population live and work in rural areas and yet only 12 per cent of bank branches and 11 per cent of cash machines are located there. A new report by Which says that almost one in eight (12%) rural communities that lost a free ATM now have to travel more than 1km to the nearest machine that doesn’t charge for withdrawals.

This means it is becoming increasingly difficult for people and businesses located in rural communities to access their money, other day-to-day services, and those services necessary to run a local business. Cash remains an important part of the rural economy as rural communities have a larger proportion of lower income, older and more vulnerable users who still prefer, or need, to use cash. Rural communities see an increasingly digital world that only works for those with adequate broadband and mobile connectivity.

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