Martin Whitfield MP has welcomed a new report which urges banks to create local “banking hubs” for customers if a town faces a threat to its last bank branch.

The proposal is made in a report from the House of Commons’ Treasury Select Committee. It suggests that the big four banks Lloyds, Barclays, HSBC and RBS would fund the hubs, which could be in Post Offices, but would have specially trained staff.

The Committee came up with the idea of local banking hubs as a way of dealing with the fallout from the significant closures of branches, which has seen Scotland lose over a third of its bank and building society branches over the last eight years.

The report states there are still large sections of society which depend on branches and that banks cannot rely entirely on their online and mobile services to serve customers.

Martin Whitfield MP said:

“I welcome this report which outlines a sensible and achievable way forward for the retention of banking services in local communities.

“Over recent years we have witnessed the impact of the withdrawal of branches in some of East Lothian’s communities, including Prestonpans which would be an ideal location for one of these banking hubs.

“I believe that Labour’s plans for setting up a Post Bank based in the Post Office network offers a long term solution for retaining banking services in local communities.

“However, the banking hub plan would at least help to avoid the loss of banking from many of our towns in the immediate future.

“Some of the banks are already using this model in towns and cities in England, so we know it can work. Ministers should now get behind this idea and drive it forward to help save ‘face to face’ banking in our communities.”

The Treasury Committee’s full report on consumers’ access to financial services can be found at www.parliament.uk/documents/commonscommittees/treasury/Reports/1642%20large%20print.pdf