Rochford (Essex)

Rochford has a population of around 20,000. The community leaders submitted a bid to become a pilot community primarily to support its ageing population who are heavily reliant on cash, as well as to support small businesses who can struggle to deposit cash locally. Rochford had been concerned about the viability of its market town since the last bank branch closed and wanted to keep its town centre vibrant and its retailers supported. Many of the surrounding areas, including Hockley, also have limited access to cash facilities. Rochford has an established working party looking at wider regeneration of the local towns which this pilot worked with. 

Services that were made available through the pilots:


A new Bank Hub run jointly by the major banks and the Post Office, offers essential banking services for personal and small business customers of all the major banks. The Bank Hub provides a private environment which is suitable for managing transactions securely. The Bank Hub is located at 38-40 West Street SS4 1AJ and is open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. Following the pilot period, the Hub has remained open, and the banks are committed to operating the service until at least April 2023.

Community Bank support.– Many of the largest banks offered face to face services in the Bank Hub to support their local customers, in a dedicated room – and these services are still running.  Each bank manages their time in their own way, although all banks operated drop-in services, so people can walk in without an appointment.

These operating days are:
Monday – NatWest
Tuesday – Lloyds Bank
Wednesday – Santander
Thursday – Barclays
Friday – HSBC UK

Support on how to access digital and online banking and getting support to manage money more effectively.

 Support was, and still is, offered by the bankers operating within the Bank Hub.

ATM. There are now three, free to use ATMs in Rochford. One is on West Street, outside the Sainsburys, the second in the new Bank Hub and the third in the Market Square.

Cashback from local retailers –we worked with retailers to offer cashback so that when people bought things from local stores, they could also ask for cashback of any amount – whether a round figure (e.g. £10) or just what they needed.

Guide to what banks can offer.
The banks offer a wide range of services that most people don’t know about. In fact, as we set up these pilots, we had requests for a lot of services – and found that many are already offered. We wrote a short guide to these services.

Make coins easier to store and spend.
We trialled a new solution, run by a British company called Shrap that enabled people to receive change on a card or mobile app when paying with cash. The service was totally free and worked like a ‘virtual coin jar’ where change could  be stored and spent anonymously with businesses and friends.


Automated deposits – no need to queue.
We brought in a new service for small businesses, an automated deposit machine – like an ATM in reverse located in the Bank Hub. Small businesses could simply use their card to sign in, as for an ATM, and then deposit cash in private, without queuing. All major banks participated in this  service.

Cashback for customers – at no cost to  businesses
We offered local retailers, cafes, and restaurants the option to give out cashback to consumers, with costs covered by the pilot.

Coin Recycling so that businesses could handle less small change.

We have heard from small businesses that a challenge with accepting cash was managing the small change. We piloted a simple to use solution that allowed retailers to give customers their change on a card or mobile app, instead of in coins.  The aim was to save the hassle of managing small coins, and allow customers to easily save and spend their change, recirculating value in the local economy that is often lost.

This service was provided by Shrap, an independent, FCA-authorised start-up based in Poole, UK.