Thursday, January 26, 2017

News: Closures could leave Wath without a bank

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Two leading banks are turning their backs on the Rotherham town of Wath as part of their closure programmes.

Last week, CYBG PLC, the parent company of Yorkshire Bank, announced that the Wath-upon-Dearne branch would close in May as part of plans to reduce its branch network as part of the bank's strategy to create "a truly integrated digital, mobile, telephone and branch service for its customers."

And this week, HSBC announced that its Wath branch would close this year as it brings its branch restructuring programme to an end.

With the previous closure of the Santander branch, Wath could be left with a High Street bank.

Companies say that the decision to close branches reflects a change in the way customers are banking. Since 2011, the number of customers using their bank for day-to-day transactions across the banking industry in the UK has fallen by a third. This ongoing decline in branch usage, married to a sharp and sustained increase in digital and mobile engagement, has driven a shift to providing greater access to day-to-day banking services remotely, on the move and outside of normal business hours.

Over the past five years, the number of customers using HSBC branches has fallen by almost 40%. 93% of customers' contact with the bank is now completed via the telephone, internet or smartphone, and 97% of cash withdrawals are made via an ATM.

Yorkshire Bank said in a statement that its first priority is to its customers and will be "working extensively with impacted customers, local communities and relevant stakeholders to ensure that the transition to their new branch is as smooth and as sensitive as possible, particularly where vulnerable customers are concerned."

It added that; "It is also the Bank's intention to try to find roles for frontline branch staff either within other branches or elsewhere in the Bank, wherever possible" but with 39 branches set to close in 2017, Yorkshire Bank staff will be at risk of redundancy.

HSBC said that it will seek to redeploy as many of the people impacted as possible although it is expected that the planned closure of 62 of its UK branches in 2017 may result in up to 180 redundancies.

Announced last year, the Wickersley, Dinnington and commercial branch at the Sheffield Business Park of HSBC are all set to close on February 17.

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Francesca McDonagh, Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management for UK and Europe at HSBC, said: "The way our customers bank with us is changing. More customers are using mobile and internet banking than ever before, innovation such as Touch and Voice ID has proved extremely popular, and fewer people are using branches. More than 90% of our interactions with customers are now through our digital channels – an increase from 80% last year.

"The decision to close these branches ensures a more sustainable branch network for the future as we continue to invest in our digital platforms and our people. We will have fewer but better branches, with more empowered front line colleagues using a greater range of technology to support all our customers' needs.

"Our priority now is to work with our colleagues, our customers and the communities impacted by today’s announcement. We are contacting customers to explain the decision and help them with alternative ways to bank with us. We will offer customers individual sessions to help explain their options or provide help in setting up telephone, mobile or internet banking."

John Healey MP, whose Wentworth and Dearne constituency includes Wath, has reacted strongly to the announcements. He said: "I am angry. The decision of both banks to pull out of Wath is a disgrace. Banks are supposed to be "service" companies but by pulling out of Wath they are badly letting their customers down.

"The banking system had strong support from taxpayers after they caused the global financial crisis and recession in 2008, now they should be standing by their communities.

"Wath is known as the queen of villages but this could rip out the heart of the town.

"I have been in contact directly with the chief executives of both banks to let them know how concerned I am by their decision, and I will do everything I can to get them to change their minds."

HSBC website
CYBG website

Images: Christopher Thomas, via Wikimedia Commons


2 comments:

Fiona Titchen,  January 26, 2017 at 6:54 PM  

Heard this story on the news tonight, and that there is a petition against the closures. Would like to sign the petition,but can't find it. Could you please post a link to it,so that those of us who feel strongly that we shouldn't be forced to use online banking can sign up? Thank you

Tom,  January 27, 2017 at 9:57 AM  

Thanks for your comment Fiona. The online petition is here:

https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-YB-wath

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