Relentless tide of bank closures stinks of short-sightedness


HSBC - Credit: Archant

This year has seen the loss of two high street banks in Exmouth.
Across the UK, more than 500 branches have been closed or earmarked for closure in the UK in 2021.
HSBC’s Exmouth branch closed in August, only two months after the Barclays Exmouth branch also shut its doors. According to local historians on the Exmouth Past & Present Facebook page, these banks under different names had served the people of this town for almost a century. They're now empty.
For HSBC customers, their nearest branch is now Sidmouth. Barclays customers will now need to go to Exeter. HSBC customers can attend a one-off pop-up branch Q&A a day after this edition of The Journal hits the newsstands. The insensitively titled Exmouth Closure Community Event will be held on Thursday, September 9 between 10am and 12.15pm at Ocean.
As a youngish person brought up using computers and smartphones, it is still important to have the choice of being able to visit my local Nationwide branch, which thankfully still exists. With so many banks taking away our choice despite making huge profits, I believe it is high time that the government stepped in.
The MP representing Exmouth, Simon Jupp, wrote to HSBC back in January asking them to ‘urgently review’ their decision. They ignored him. If they won't listen, legislation is surely required to make high street banks duty-bound to provide face-to-face services in areas where they have a strong customer base and especially where this customer base includes a large cohort of elderly and vulnerable groups, the former in our case.
There is also the wider point of the impact that the closure of branches such as HSBC and Barclays has on our town centres and local jobs. The banks themselves point to data suggesting the vast majority of their customers no longer desire or have need for any face-to-face services. I don’t trust this data, given the pressure so many customers get to bank online.
Before more branches close, our MP must act. The removal of branches from major settlements such as Exmouth stinks of short-sightedness and corporate greed.

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