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Labour promises ban on ATM fees, to end branch closures, and a Post Bank

The UK’s Labour party has pledged to ban ATM fees, stop bank branch closures and to create a publicly-owned Post Office bank if it wins the general election next month.

Concern has been growing over the last year about the removal of fee-free ATMs and bank branches in small communities, which is leading to the creation of ‘cash deserts’.

In March, the independent Access to Cash Review said the UK is not ready to go cashless and set out a series of measures necessary to ensure no one is left behind as the country moves towards a digital society.

Earlier this month, consumer group Which? published analysis suggesting over 250 communities have either poor cashpoint provision or no cashpoints at all, prompting it to call on political parties to bring in legislation to tackle the problem.

In its manifesto ahead of the 12 December general election, Labour says it will simply ban ATM charges. The move is designed to protect users, often low-income, who still rely heavily on cash but will hit fee-charging operators such as Cardtronics.

Jeremy Corbyn’s party also says it will be “stopping” bank branch closures. More than a third of the UK’s branches have shut their doors since 2015 while hundreds of those that remain have slashed their opening hours, says Which? However, the manifesto does not specify how a halt on closures will be enforced.

Meanwhile, Labour also plans to bring the Royal Mail bank into public ownership and reunite it with the Post Office and create a “publicly owned Post Bank run through the post office network to ensure every community has easy access to face-to-face, trusted and affordable banking”.