Ben Lake and 56 other MPs have written a joint letter to Nikhil Rathi, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), urging him to change the rules around banking hubs.

Since the passage of the Financial Services and Markets Act (2023), the FCA has become the regulator for LINK, the body responsible for assessing a community’s access to cash needs.

LINK can recommend a banking hub or a similar scheme for a particular area. However, current FCA rules mean LINK is unable to recommend a banking hub until the last bank in town closes, subject to certain exceptions, risking a community’s access to cash.

The FCA is currently consulting on proposed changes to its rules. Among these include changing the “last bank in town” rule to a rule where LINK can intervene when the second-to-last bank in town closes instead.

However, Mr Lake, the MP for Ceredigion, and his colleagues have urged the FCA to go a step further.

The 57 MPs, representing eight different parties in the House of Commons, have called on Mr Rathi “to grant LINK the ability to operate on a case-by-case basis” and argue that when “the direction of travel is clear… LINK should be able to recommend a banking hub” while “a few branches remain”.

The MPs argue that such a move would allow staff to be moved over to a banking hub more seamlessly and “ensure that a community is not plunged into a limbo period” where they lose their access to cash.

Mr Lake said: “Bank branches have been disappearing from Ceredigion’s high streets for many years, leaving local residents, local businesses and many other organisations without the banking services they need.

“I fully support this cross-party campaign, designed to unlock more banking hubs across the country, something I’ve been championing since I introduced a Bill in Parliament in 2018 calling on the UK Government to make provision for community banking hubs.

“Access to cash and face-to-face banking services continues to be important for many constituents, businesses and organisations across Ceredigion. Not everyone can or is able to go digital yet, and we have to do whatever we can to soften the blow, and ensuring the early provision of the safety net of a banking hub is one way we can do so.”