Increasing bank branch closures frustrating consumers and marginalising the vulnerable

Source: Neopay

More than half of Brits have not seen a member of their bank in over a year, as branch closures continue to annoy consumers, according to new research.

Of the 2,000 people surveyed by Neopay, 53% hadn’t met a branch staff member in a year whilst 83% did so less than every six months, with branch closures cited amongst the top three banking frustrations of consumers.

With an estimated 1700 bank branches closing across the UK in the past five years, and with further closures planned, criticisms are mounting that vulnerable groups will be disproportionately affected and further marginalised.

Those from lower income families, the elderly, and those with disabilities who may not have access to online banking, may lack digital literacy, or have issues travelling to branches further afield, are feared will be worst hit by closures.

Scott Dawson, commercial director at Neopay, said: “A clear message is being delivered to traditional banks from consumers, and indeed from campaigners such as Age UK and Campaign for Community Banking Service (CCBS), that branch closures are frustrating and only serving to alienate groups that are in need.

“Bigger banks need to carefully consider the damage each individual branch closure will inflict on communities as they weigh up the pros and cons of doing so. While our banking landscape is increasingly shaped by the digital era we find ourselves in, it’s important we remember that not all groups are able to take advantage of technology and innovation. For those without internet access or the know-how, the continuing branch closures, which are disproportionately higher in deprived areas, can spell serious trouble.

“And, with our report finding that opening more local branches to be one of the top ways consumers believe banks can improve customer service, this could be just the ammunition needed for banks to reconsider their position on proposed further closures.”

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