Small businesses and elderly people left in the cold by 2,000 bank closures in past decade

Britain's banks are abandoning hundreds of communities by closing almost three branches a week, leaving elderly customers and small businesses particularly hard hit.

This year, 140 branches have been closed or earmarked for closure, according to the Campaign for Community Banking Services. Of these, 63 are the last bank in town, forcing residents to travel for miles to use a cash machine or deposit their takings.

HSBC is the worst culprit, closing 68 branches this year. NatWest/RBS has closed 42 and Barclays 30. In the past 12 years 2,200 branches have shut.

Derek French of the campaign says: "Consumers need access to branches because online and telephone banking simply isn't suitable for many people. Banks should halt these branch closures now for the good of their customers and the community."

Residents of small Cumbrian town Appleby-in-Westmorland know what it's like to take on a banking giant. The town attracts thousands of tourists every year, who need access to cash machines to spend money in local shops and businesses. But HSBC has announced plans to close its branch, leaving only Barclays.

Local shopkeeper Susan Spence, 51, is helping with the campaign to stop the HSBC branch closing on 30 November. She accepts only cash payments at Allsorts and deposits her takings most days at HSBC. But from next month she will be forced to drive a 25-mile round trip to her nearest branch.

Residents have organised a petition with 2,000 signatures, equivalent to two-thirds of the residents. But Ms Spence says they have "met a brick wall". "I am going to switch to Barclays," she says. "The world's local bank has abandoned us, so we are going to abandon them."

A spokesman for HSBC, the only big bank not to promise to halt closures, said usage of the Appleby-in-Westmorland branch has fallen "very significantly over the past few years" and they are working with customers ahead of the closure.

It is not just local businesses that suffer when banks and cash machines disappear. Many vulnerable older people are cut off from financial services. Fiddly card-readers for making payments online are particularly problematic for people with dexterity problems, let alone those with no internet connection or with no means of travelling to other towns.

So why close branches? "A lot of branches targeted for closure are small with only a couple of staff who are kept very busy with routine transactions," Mr French says. "Staff don't have the time or expertise to sell products – which means the bank fails to generate as much income as bosses would like."

For some communities their local post office – if they still have one – may offer an alternative as there are now more of them in the UK than all the banks' branches.

From next spring all HSBC and First Direct customers will be able to withdraw or pay in cash and cheques and make balance enquiries at Post Office counters.

This leaves Santander as the only major bank not to allow customers access to accounts at a post office.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

    £850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

    Business Analyst (Agile, SDLC, software)

    £45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

    Finance Manager - Bank - Leeds - £300/day

    £250 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Finance Manager - Accountant - Bank...

    Compliance Officer - CF10, CF11, Compliance Oversight, AML, FX

    £100000 - £120000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading fi...

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn