As banks close branches across the country a consumer group is calling for the Post Office to fill the gap.
Consumer Focus wants all high street banks to allow their customers full access to their personal bank accounts through the Post Office network.
Research by the group has shown that if such a service existed and we were all aware of it, the number of people banking through their Post Office would increase significantly.
Consumer Focus estimates that it could rise from the current four million people who bank via the Post Office to up to 18 million.
A win-win scenario
"Thousands of communities have only one bank branch or even none at all, with more bank closures likely in the future. Better current account access at the Post Office would be a win-win situation," says Andy Burrows, spokesperson for Consumer Focus.
"Customers would enjoy the convenience of more face-to-face counter access and the Post Office network would benefit from greater footfall. This should help lead to a more sustainable future for the Post Office network which many people rely upon."
At present, all consumers with a basic bank account with any of the high street banks can withdraw money from the Post Office. But this should go further, argues Consumer Focus.
Everyone should be able to make cash withdrawals, deposit cash and cheques and access information on their account balance at the Post Office.
Consumer Focus is also calling for both banks and the Post Office to do more to promote the availability of banking services at the Post Office.
The table below shows you what banking services are available via the Post Office depending on who you bank with:
|BANK||Cash withdrawal||Balance enquiry||Cash deposit||Cheque deposit|
|BANK OF IRELAND||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|BANK OF SCOTLAND||Y||Y||N||N|
|NATWEST/ULSTER BANK||Y||Y||Under review||Under review|
|ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND||Y||Y||Under review||Under review|