THE Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has expressed its disappointment at HSBC’s decision to close a further 62 branches.

It adds to a wave of branch closures by the big banks in recent years, leaving many smaller businesses unable to access the counter services they need, including basic functions such as depositing cash takings.

Martin McTague, FSB policy director, said: “It is disappointing that yet more bank branches are being shut down, in some cases leaving towns and villages without a single bank.

“I have spoken directly to HSBC about this, to make sure the bank’s bosses are well aware of the impact these closures will have on our members and to discuss alternative ways of providing the banking services they need.

“We hope that this is the last of these closures by HSBC and would like to see special measures to help areas left with no bank at all.”

HSBC is among the banks to have teamed up with the Post Office to expand counter services for small businesses and consumers, such as cash withdrawals and making deposits.

FSB has given a cautious welcome to this new agreement. Reports suggest that counter services will now be available for 75 per cent of potential small business users, up from 40 per cent currently.

Research published by the FSB last year shows that business banking services currently provided at some Post Office branches and franchises are too limited.

Some services, such as cash and cheque clearing facilities, appear to be processed more slowly than in bank branches. Other services, such as inter-account transfers and currency exchange, are not available at all.

Martin added: “These problems have a direct impact on small firms, particularly for those in rural areas.

“The importance of the Post Office urgently addressing such issues has only been heightened following the announcement.”