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Access to Banking Services (Protection) Act 2016
Access to Banking Services (Protection) Act 2016
An Act to allow the Financial Conduct Authority, HM Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy, and Climate Change to jointly develop regulations to allow for and ease colocation of private banks with other banks or with Government property in rural or underbanked communities to maintain access to financial services and regulations regarding the closure of banks in rural or underbanked communities, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—
Section 1. Regulations on Bank Colocation.
(a.) Following the date of effect of this Act, the Financial Conduct Authority (hereafter referred to as the FCA), HM Treasury (hereafter referred to as the Treasury) and the Department for Business, Energy and Climate Change (hereafter referred to as BECC) shall cooperate to develop and issue a single regulation allowing for and clarifying the abilities of banks to colocate branches in a single location in rural or underbanked communities without violating UK competition regulations.
(b.) Such regulation shall include provisions that would allow for banks to colocate with existing government offices, including but not limited to offices owned or leased by the Postal Services Holding Company Limited for a minimal fee to cover any additional costs.
(c.) Such regulation shall be prepared with the input of financial services and retail banking firms as well as with rural or underbanked community groups and associations with the aim of ensuring continued access to banking services without communities losing access to bank branches.
Section 2. Requiring Community Input on Closure of Bank Branches.
(a.) Following the date of effect of this Act, the FCA, the Treasury, and BECC shall cooperate to develop and issue a single regulation that would encourage banks closing branches in rural or underbanked communities to seek input from such communities on measures that could be taken to avert cloture; such action to seek input shall be required in the instance where a bank branch is the last such branch in such communities. Consultations with communities shall be conducted in a public and open manner, with the results of such consultations to be provided to the FCA, the Treasury, and BECC through a centralized public portal such as an Internet website and with information to be posted publicly. The aim of such consultations shall to avoid the closure of bank branches, particularly the last bank branch, in a given rural or underbanked community.
(b.) The single regulation shall incorporate actions and requirements of the industry-drafted 2015 Access to Banking Standard and shall provide such requirements in the Access to Banking Standard with the force of law throughout the United Kingdom.
(c.) In the event that no other alternative can be found through the consultations provided for in Section 2.(a.) to closing a last branch in a rural or underbanked community, the single regulation shall require a levy, to be determined through a formula established by the FCA, the Treasury, and BECC, to fund bank colocation efforts, including paying for any necessary changes to infrastructure, or to fund activities in Section 3. of this Act.
Section 3. Bank of Last Resort
(a.) BECC, through the wholly-owned Postal Services Holding Company Limited (hereafter referred to as the Company), shall be authorized to expand banking services provided by the Company, in contract with privately held banks or, in the case that no privately held banks agree, through National Savings and Investment, to provide traditional retail banking services including savings accounts, current accounts, electronic payment systems (such as debit and/or credit cards), loans, and mortgages. Such products shall be available at competitive rates similar to those offered by private banks.
(b.) The Company shall only be entitled to offer services beyond what it does currently in rural or underbanked communities where no other private alternative is provided and shall not directly compete with private providers of these services.
(c.) If, after the Company establishes services in a community prior to the return of private banks, the Company shall not be prevented from continuing operations for at least three years.
Section 4. Financial Inclusion
(a.) The FCA shall, as a part of its normal mission, develop appropriate rules in coordination with business and with interested groups and individuals with the aim of promoting financial inclusion. “Financial inclusion” shall include measures designed to provide assistance or information to those with high levels of debt, those in underbanked communities, those without access to bank accounts, and those with low savings or assets at a minimum and other groups as the FCA shall determine.
(b.) As part of its efforts to promote financial inclusion, the FCA shall establish a regulatory team to consider access to free-to-use Automated Teller Machines and how to ensure access to such machines. FCA shall develop regulations to protect access to free-to-use Automated Teller Machines.
Section 5. Definitions
(a.) "Rural Communities" shall be defined as any community classified as rural under the Rural Urban Classification statistic.
(b.) "Underbanked Communities" shall be defined as any community wherein 25% of residences or more do not have insured bank accounts or wherein 25% of residences of more do have such accounts but that rely on non-bank or alternative financial providers (such as short-term or so-called "payday" lenders) or have used such providers more than once in the previous six months. The FCA, the Treasury, and BECC may propose additional definitions provided that such definitions look at access to physical bank locations such as through the amount of travel time needed to visit a physical bank location.
Section 6. Enactment and Extent
(a) This bill shall apply to the whole of the United Kingdom.
(b) This bill shall come into effect following Royal Assent.
Anthony Harte MP
Wirral West | Labour Party
(Prior to 1 July 2019: Asil Ediboglu)