Customers Starved of Money as One in Ten Banks Closes | UK | New
Martin Lewis gives advice on changing banks
As of March of last year, 7,675 bank branches were open, down 850 from the previous year when there were 8,525. And since 2010, when data began to be recorded, the number of branches almost halved, from 14,855, according to the Office for National Statistics. This is a huge problem for millions of vulnerable customers, including the elderly or the homeless, who depend on physical branches.
There are fears that the closures have accelerated branch closures as people switch to mobile or online banking.
Caroline Abrahams, Director of Charity at Age UK, said: “The scale of the removal of bank branches in recent years means communities across the country are being cut off from their money.
“The rapid evolution towards online banking in recent years has caused significant problems for many older customers, especially those with vision and dexterity issues.
“As older people increasingly connect to the Internet, more than half of people aged 65 and over do not use online banking services. “When branch closings coincide with poor local transportation, a lack of ATMs, and mobile black spots, it can become nearly impossible for seniors to manage their money independently.”
The number of branches of the mortgage company is smaller and more stable.
There were 1,880 in March 2020 – before the first lockdown – which is the same number as in 2019, but down from 2,100 in 2010. Consumer watchdog Which one? said banks and mortgage companies have closed, or scheduled the closure, of 4,188 branches since January 2015, at a rate of around 50 per month.
An HSBC branch in Davenport which closed in 2016
The NatWest group, which includes NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank, closed 1,086 branches during this period.
Lloyds Banking Group, made up of Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland, has closed 680 locations.
Barclays is the individual bank that has reduced its network the most since 2015, with a total of 650 branches set to close by the end of this year.
Banks put aside most plans for additional closings last year due to the pandemic. But TSB will close 155 branches this year, while Santander will close 111.
HSBC is closing 82 and M&S Bank will close all of its in-store branches by the end or summer, when it will stop offering checking accounts.
HSBC said 90% of all contact with customers is now done by phone, internet or smartphone.
HSBC UK said the number of customers using branches has fallen by a third over the past five years.
But which one? said there are still a lot of people and small businesses that depend on local banks who are unwilling or unable to join the digital revolution.
The watchdog added: “This is especially difficult in rural areas, where people suffer from poor broadband and mobile coverage, and a higher population of older customers.”
A Halifax was closed in Birmingham was closed to become a Nando’s
Post offices can serve as an alternative to bank branches while ATMs can provide some essential financial services.
In January, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) asked banks to reconsider the closings while the foreclosure restrictions were still in place.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that by early 2020, 76% of people had used internet banking in the previous three months, up from 73% in 2019.
However, this ranged from about 90 percent of those 16 to 44 to 49 percent of those 65 and older.
UK Finance, the industry’s trade association, said: “Technology is not for everyone and bank branches continue to play an important role in the lives of local communities, which means decisions to shut them down are never taken lightly.
“The industry has been particularly attentive to supporting vulnerable customers with a range of initiatives, including dedicated helplines, cash delivery and third-party access cards for caregivers.”
Post offices can act as a banking service
Barclays said: “With more and more customers choosing to bank in different ways, we are carefully reducing the number of underutilized branches we have. “
HSBC said, “We are keenly aware that there will be customers who are less confident or comfortable with self-service options, and we are reaching out to vulnerable customers by phone to discuss an upcoming closure, explain them and support them with other means of doing so. their bank.
Lloyds Banking Group said: “We are committed to having the largest branch network in the UK and, in addition to our branches, all of our customers can also use the post office to access their banking services locally. ”
TSB Chief Executive Officer Debbie Crosbie said, “Our customers do their banking differently. We are reshaping our business to transform the customer experience and prepare for the future. ”
NatWest said, “Closing a branch is a decision we take very seriously. We know this can affect people who are less confident in the alternatives we offer, and we will always work hard to guide them through the changes.