BANKS ‘MASK­ING TRUTH’ ON CLO­SURES

Sunday Tribune - - VENTURE -

lo­cal branch once a fort­night, or who usu­ally use it weekly but go on hol­i­day sev­eral times a year are left out of the cal­cu­la­tions.

Last year, Lloyds and RBS shut 439 out­lets – and they are ax­ing at least 519 more this year.

Cam­paign­ers last week ac­cused the banks of try­ing to mask the truth about branches’ im­por­tance to jus­tify sav­age cuts de­priv­ing ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties of vi­tal ser­vices.

When they shut a branch, banks must re­veal how many cus­tomers rely on it, un­der in­dus­try rules. They typ­i­cally say the branches have only a hand­ful of reg­u­lar cus­tomers and are no longer cost-ef­fec­tive.

The pair’s ap­proach is far more re­stric­tive than ri­val Bar­clays, which clas­si­fies some­one as a reg­u­lar cus­tomer if they use a branch just three times in a year.

The Fed­er­a­tion of Small Busi­nesses (FSB) has re­peat­edly fought branch clo­sures.

FSB chair­man Mike Cherry said: “There are thou­sands of small firms who visit branches less fre­quently to cash cheques, ac­cess credit lines and set up new ac­counts, a lot of small busi­ness own­ers sud­denly need ac­cess to in-per­son sup­port at once in the event of a wide­spread on­line bank­ing gl­itch, for ex­am­ple.

“The banks need to recog­nise the im­por­tance of these more in­fre­quent vis­its.”

A spokesman for Lloyds said it pub­lished how many cus­tomers used a branch on a monthly and weekly ba­sis, adding: “We use over 100 mea­sures when as­sess­ing the im­pact of a branch clo­sure. We are trans­par­ent about the rea­sons for clos­ing a branch.”

An RBS spokesman said trans­ac­tions at branches in Eng­land and Wales were down 30% since 2014 and that the same pe­riod saw a 53% rise in the num­ber of cus­tomers us­ing mo­bile bank­ing. – Daily Mail

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