'They shut my branch - the next nearest is 35 miles away'

Image source, Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images
Image caption,
RBS's branch closure announcement is the third this week, following Lloyds and the Yorkshire Building Society

Three people of different ages and abilities have told the BBC how they believe bank closures in Britain will affect their lives.

One person, a treasurer for a number of charities, told the BBC that when his branch closes, the next nearest will be 35 miles away.

It comes after RBS - which is 71%-owned by the taxpayer - announced the closure of 259 branches in 2018.

Malcolm Gardiner, from Kyle in north-west Scotland, acts as the treasurer for three charities.

"My daughter runs a trust working as a voluntary doctor in Ecuador," he said. "There's youth work in our area that I used to be chair of, and my wife works at a charity cafe.

Image source, Malcolm Gardiner
Image caption,
Mr Gardiner says the cafe's customers pay by cash which has to be taken to the bank

"My wife's just brought the money back from the cafe, so I've got a couple of hundred pounds here that I've now got to bank.

"The Kyle bank [which is being closed] is about a quarter of a mile away from the charity cafe, while the next nearest branch is on the Isle of Skye - so my new branch is 35 miles away."

He told the BBC that there has been no communication from RBS about what people should do in his situation, and the solution is not as simple as changing banks.

"Many people donate by standing order. If we switch to another one, we would have to write to everybody, get them all to change the sort code and account number.

"If you do that, you lose some standing orders, simple as that.

"It's such a huge nuisance for small charities."

'The writing's on the wall'

Image caption,
Dick said that internet banking was a "boon" for some disabled people, but for others it was "completely useless"

Dick, 64, who's from a rural village in Lincolnshire, requires a wheelchair-accessible bank.

"There are severe limitations on what I can do and where I can do it," he said. "What I need is access to a variety of methods of banking that I can pick and choose from.

"The place where the accessible Lloyds is, HSBC have shut, NatWest have shut, the writing's on the wall. The branch isn't on the current closures list but I think that's just a temporary stay of execution."

Dick told the BBC that if his local Lloyds was closed, the answer would not be as simple as changing banks.

"I actually tried to change banks - but [the bank I tried to change to] doesn't have an accessible branch. They said to me, 'Oh we've only got a small step,' and I said, 'You've still got a step!'

"I have been in touch with the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority). For two years FCA has had a project called Financial Services for an Ageing Population. They've just within the past few weeks produced an Occasional Paper currently in consultation.

"They've substantially got it right. They're on the right track. They're saying the banks should recognise and provide for people who need something different.

"But the problem is, by the time anything tangible comes out of this, we won't have a branch network to talk about because it will be gone."

'I like to speak to people'

Media caption,
Can a bank in a box replace a branch?

Becky, who is 34 and lives in St Albans, refuses to do online banking because it lacks a "personal touch".

"I'm old-fashioned," she said. "I like to speak to people.

"I've got a strong rapport with my bank manager - they've helped me with loans and financial advice. If you take the branch away how are people going to do that?

"Online can't do everything. Maybe I'm just a bit old-fashioned, but I prefer to actually speak to someone."

Becky said that without her branch she would be "massively stuck".

"The bank's been really helpful over the years. My bank manager has gone above and beyond, their customer service has been excellent.

"You can't build up that personal relationship with a computer."

By Tom Gerken, UGC & Social News

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