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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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SALMOND & WHITEFORD WELCOME POST BANK CONSULTATION

Thursday, 10 December 2009

"MODEL MUST FOCUS ON NEEDS OF COMMUNITIES"

Banff & Buchan MP Alex Salmond has welcomed the UK Government’s consultation on developing Post Bank services and is urging people from across the constituency to make their views known.

The local MP has been a long-time supporter of the Post Office and has opposed closures and the loss of services such as TV Licensing from the network.

Mr Salmond believes the creation of a ‘Post Bank’ will allow many more people on lower incomes to open a bank account and get a mortgage or loan, making it easier for first-time buyers to qualify for its mortgages. It could also see the Post Office offering more financial services to small businesses.

It also holds out the prospect of allowing those on state benefits to set up direct debits – something which will allow them to take advantage of cheaper energy deals instead of relying on expensive pre-pay meters.

However, the MP has warned that the focus of the consultation must be on the needs of communities – not the needs of banks.

Commenting, Alex Salmond said:

“I think this could be a very valuable initiative. Sadly, the Post Office closure programme has decimated the number of Post Offices across the country. In many of these communities the "traditional" banks have also long since gone.

“Here in Banff & Buchan there is huge support for our Post Offices which has been demonstrated by strong responses to previous consultations and campaigns to protect services.

“We now need to look to the future and see how new services can be introduced at the remaining post offices to build on the network for the future and also to provide much needed financial services.”

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford added:

"Post Offices are not just a business but also provide an invaluable social role, especially in rural communities. They are a focal point for people with information on local events and services, as well as being a meeting point. All of this is additional to the core over-the-counter services but the combination of these things is what makes our Post Office network so critcial.

"In many communities, small businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to get finance from the large banks, despite the fact that they are now largely owned by the taxpayer. It is also clear that the large banks really do not always wish to engage with small savers and borrowers - their deals are all targeted at those who can deposit large sums every month.

"The Post Bank concept gives the opportunity to create a bank that will concentrate on small savers and small businesses, providing essential services in our communities."

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