LONDON (Reuters) – Barclays <BARC.L> on Thursday said it will maintain customers’ ability to withdraw cash from Britain’s Post Office branches, reversing a change announced earlier this month that angered the public and lawmakers amid cuts to the lender’s branch network.
The bank’s U-turn followed a week that had seen lawmakers summon the lender’s executives to explain the move and widespread criticism from customer lobby groups who said it would especially hurt customers in rural areas.
In common with other British banks, Barclays has closed hundreds of branches in recent years, leaving many in more remote towns and villages without access to a branch where cash can be withdrawn without incurring charges.
The bank had said customers would not be hurt by branch closures because they could take money out for free from one of Britain’s 11,500 Post Offices as part of a partnership – but then said that would stop in January.
“Ultimately we have been persuaded to rethink our proposals by the argument that our full participation in the Post Office Banking Framework is crucial at this point to the viability of the Post Office network,” Barclays Chief Executive Jes Staley said.
The British lender reports third quarter earnings on Friday.
“I’m glad Barclays have come to this decision. They have listened to concerns of politicians, charities and most importantly their customers,” said Natalie Ceeney, independent chair of the Access to Cash Review lobby group.
“Barclays have finally read the writing on the wall and caved to public and political pressure to dump this woefully misguided policy,” added lawmaker Rachel Reeves.
(Reporting by Lawrence White; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)