Cambuslang received the good news today that the BankHUB – initially set up for a six-month pilot period – will continue for at least another 18 months.

Since opening their doors in April, the two BankHUBs in Cambuslang (South Lanarkshire) and Rochford (Essex) have provided a unique and innovative service in British banking history.  The BankHUBs have pioneered a new model of local banking, offering a counter service run by the Post Office, alongside face-to-face access to Community Bankers representing those banks with the most customers in the area. In Cambuslang, the Community Bankers involve RBS, Bank of Scotland, Santander, Virgin Money and TSB, each offering advice and support with account management on one designated day a week.

In the short time since they were launched in April 2021 as part of the Community Access to Cash Pilot scheme, the Cambuslang and Rochford BankHUBs have helped over 12,000 customers with access to cash and basic banking needs. A survey of Cambuslang BankHUB customers, just completed, shows over 95% local satisfaction with the BankHUB service. It is making a huge difference to the lives of elderly people in particular, and those with financial management challenges. The survey evidence also shows that BankHUB users are spending more time and money shopping in Cambuslang Main Street, contributing to the commercial revival of the town centre.

The Cambuslang and Rochford BankHUBs had been due to close in October. But the Access to Cash Action Group  – chaired by Natalie Ceeney, author of Access to Cash Review – has decided to extend both Hub pilots until at least April 2023, giving banks and local communities more time to test new innovations, adapt services to meet people’s needs, and build insight to inform effective solutions for the long term.

‘Cashback without purchase’ to be made available in thousands of shops

In a parallel development, the pilot-testing of ‘cashback without a purchase’ (being trialled in nine Cambuslang shops) will be extended to many other shops. During the pilot in eight areas across the UK, customers made thousands of withdrawals and balance enquiries – withdrawing an average of £28 each time. Many withdrawals were for ‘non-round’ amounts that would not be available from an ATM – with one high street banking reporting that half of their customers who used cashback were considered vulnerable. The results from Cambuslang and seven other pilot areas across the UK have prompted new government legislation (passed in April 2021) opening the door to thousands of retailers offering cashback to customers without them needing to make a purchase. Under the scheme, customers insert their bank card into an eligible terminal on the counter and can withdraw exactly the amount they need – with the cash provided by the retailer directly from the till. We hope this will be the first of many schemes and operators offering cashback. Following a successful pilot, LINK and PayPoint will now embark on the rapid rollout of ‘cashback without purchase’ to thousands of smaller shops over the coming months.

‘Fantastic news for Cambuslang’

John Bachtler, Chair of Cambuslang Community Council, which coordinates the Cambuslang BankHUB said: “This is fantastic news for the Cambuslang BankHUB and the local community. Residents and businesses will be delighted that the BankHUB model is being extended for at least another 18 months. Within a few months, the Cambuslang BankHUB has already proved that the model is very successful, providing a much-needed service to hundreds of local customers every week. We are proud to that Cambuslang has been piloting a model that has drawn interest from politicians across Scotland and has implications for other unbanked communities across the country.”

Natalie Ceeney CBE, independent Chair of the Access to Cash Action Group:We can already see the positive role the Hubs are playing in revitalising these local communities – providing essential banking services for individuals as well as a boost for local businesses. Extending the pilots gives us more opportunity to really understand what works for people, and what role services like these could play in the future. These are early steps, and over the coming months the Group will explore a wide range of options to protect access to cash.”

John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said: The Government brought in new laws to make it easier to offer cashback without a purchase earlier this year and it’s great to see the industry taking advantage of these. The next step is to get this innovative new solution rolled out to shops in our local communities to protect access to cash for the millions of people who rely on it.”

Nick Read, Chief Executive at the Post Office: We are delighted with the success of the Post Office Bank Hubs. In a short space of time local businesses and consumers alike have welcomed the opportunity to do their everyday banking in a secure and bright space, and the banks we have partnered with have been able to serve their customers. We will continue to develop and test new ideas with our bank partners, ensuring that between us we continue to deliver the very best service to the millions of people UK-wide who use cash as a vital part of their everyday lives.”

Nick Wiles, CEO of PayPoint:PayPoint is delighted to be supporting access to cash through this important new channel and has plans to make cashback without a purchase available through a rapid rollout plan into over 2,000 shops before March next year. PayPoint retailers are located in some of the most disadvantaged communities in the UK where it is even more important that consumers are able to withdraw their cash to the exact penny without paying a fee.”

John Howells, CEO of LINK: “LINK is committed to maintaining free access to cash for as long as it is needed and is delighted that cashback without a purchase will shortly be rolled out in shops across the UK.  While our relationship with cash is changing and many of us are using digital payments more, there are still millions of consumers who depend on cash, so it is vitally important that new ways are found to keep access to cash sustainable for as long as consumers need it.”