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Survey finds North West residents have 1 of UK's longest journey times to local bank branch

PEOPLE in the North West spent the most time travelling to their local bank branch, with people in the Region travelling 29 minutes to reach their local branch, while more than 1 in 5 (21.9%) making over an hour's round trip to reach their nearest branch, according to a new survey into the impact of branch closures.

The research, commissioned by Newcastle Building Society, found that while the average commute time for people in the North West was 29 minutes, for 21.9% a round trip to their local branch took over an hour, with the average round trip costing £9.76.

The average UK adult visits their branch in-person twice a month, while 1 in 7 (14%) go once a week. Once a common sight on every high street, since 2015 59% of the North West's bank and building society branches have closed or are set for closure in the coming year, further impacting people's access to cash and financial services.

Newcastle Building Society has announced its survey findings as it launches a new pilot project to restore access to cash on high streets and Town Centres in its Region. If successful, the pilot could serve as a vehicle for other banks and building societies across the UK to restore access to cash and financial services to communities nationally, offering hope to millions of people and small businesses across the UK.

Collaborating with shared bank branch innovator OneBanx, the mutual is piloting the use of multi bank kiosks in 2 of its branches in Gosforth, Newcastle, and Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. The kiosks allow small businesses and personal customers of any bank to withdraw and deposit cash and coins from their accounts securely by use of a mobile app, and are the first to be located within the branch of a financial services provider anywhere in the world.

The additional access to cash services provide greater convenience for personal and business customers who may otherwise have to travel significant distances in order to complete their basic banking tasks, meaning extra cost, time and loss of income.

The pilot project with OneBanx is just 1 part of Newcastle Building Society's unique approach to restoring access to financial services in its heartland of the North East, Cumbria and North Yorkshire, which combines communities, technology and partnerships, and could equally support high streets and communities anywhere in the UK.

The Society's innovative community branch concept has proved successful in a number of locations, including:- rural towns like Hawes, North Yorkshire and Wooler, Northumberland, where sharing space with local services such as:- libraries, tourist information, community centres and even the Police force has enabled the Society to respond to local need and become a true part of the community.

Michael Conville, Acting Chief Customer Officer at Newcastle Building Society, said:- "Our recent study shows the stark reality that, as the number of bank and building society branches closing increases, a growing proportion of UK residents have to travel more significant distances, at increasing expense, to reach their local financial services and access cash. This rise in branch closures is a concern for many as the trend continues throughout the UK and more communities become cut adrift. However, we're absolutely committed to our branch network and our innovative branch model has already proved successful, working in partnership with our communities to restore financial services. The pilot with OneBanx adds to this by providing people with convenient and secure access to their bank account, and could also provide a blueprint for other financial service providers to reinstate these much-needed facilities throughout communities across the UK. Time and time again our members tell us how important it is for them to be able to access local financial services, and with the pressure on living costs, I can't think of a more important time for people to be able to pop into their local branch for a chat about money."

We would also be interested to know your thoughts on this topic, so please email them to our Newsroom at:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com.

Charity calls for families with young disabled adults to seek support

FAMILIES caring for young disabled adults at home are being offered help by a forward thinking national charity to improve quality of life.

Faced with 3 times higher costs to bring up disabled children, the continuing cost of living crisis is placing families in financial jeopardy. It is therefore even harder to afford the things that improve their disabled young adult's day to day living.

National charity Family Fund is now urging families with a disabled:- 18 to 24 year old, living at home, to apply for wide ranging grants through its:- 'Your Opportunity' scheme.

Set up 4 years ago, to help young disabled adults lead more fulfilling lives and realise ambitions; the scheme offers grants to support the transition to adulthood and includes technology, training and leisure activities.

Your Opportunity has supported over 1,200 families across the UK in the last 12 months and immediate funds are now available to help many more.

Family Fund is the UK's largest grant-making charity for families living on a low income, raising disabled and seriously ill children and young people. Last year, it provided over 170,919 grants and services worth over £37 million to families across the UK.

The charity's latest research, based on polls with the families it supports, shows that 82% say they cannot replace worn out furniture and nearly 4 out of 5 (78%) say they cannot afford to repair or replace major electrical goods such as cookers, fridges or washing machines.

For nearly half of families with disabled children and young people, paying for a beneficial activity or hobby for their disabled child is out of the question.

Cheryl Ward, Family Fund's Chief Executive Officer, said:- "We continue to see families with disabled or seriously ill children and young people increasingly struggling to afford the most basic household essentials like food and heating as costs rise and many face mounting debts. This means there is very little room for the extras which improve a young person's quality of life- yet when a child reaches 18, they lose an average of 57% of the support and benefits they had before they reached adulthood. Raising a disabled or seriously ill child is 3 times more expensive than raising other children and this financial cliff edge at 18 can be very tough for parents and carers of young adults. With the cost of living continuing to increase, we're urging families to apply to us for grants as soon as possible, through our Your Opportunity scheme."

Your Opportunity grants include:-

Computers or tablets to support young people with further education, online hobbies and the overall building of independence.

Transport costs for bus fares for appointments, or to support independent travel to clubs or hobbies.

Help with the cost of membership fees, season tickets, computer games, and music systems to promote recreation and days out.

Help with the cost of buying a provisional driving licence, and other learning materials to support driving ambitions.

White goods to help with independence, or help make mealtimes easier for carers.

Sports, or lightweight, wheelchairs to enable participation in sport activities, or access to activities that would not be possible with a day to day wheelchair.

Cheryl Ward added:- "We are extremely grateful to The Edward Gostling Foundation and Pears Foundation for recognising the need to support our work in improving the lives of young people across the UK."

Did you know that the:- 'Your Opportunity' scheme was initially set up in 2019, by Family Fund, with funding from:-Edward Gostling Foundation, Pears Foundation and funding raised by Family Fund?

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