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.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Arts and Entertainment
John Hurt will voice Prince Bolkonsky in Radio 4's War and Peace
radioRadio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Extras
indybest
News
i100
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

    Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst

    £20000 - £22000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst Re...

    Argyll Scott International: 2x Service Desk Analyst

    £20000 - £22000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst Re...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Execution Trader

    £30000 - £250000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global Rolling Spot FX, Comm...

    Citifocus Ltd: ACA - Financial Reporting

    £Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Chartered accountant (ACA or CPA), must be...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game