‘Slap in the face for elderly customers’ as Barclays closes local bank branch
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The proposed closure of a Barclays bank in Mitcham has caused uproar among local residents as well as the local MP. Siobhain McDonagh, the local Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden told BBC Politics London this morning that closing high street branches discriminates against the elderly, disabled and vulnerable in society. She also accused the bank of not being honest with its customers about the reasons for closure.
In the last five years more than 500 banks and building societies have closed in London and it looks like the latest proposed closure of a Barclays branch in the greater London area of Mitcham might be a step too far for some.
Not only has it angered customers – many of them who have been with the high street bank for 30 years – but it has also got under the skin of Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh.
They are calling for the branch to remain open and for banks to stop discriminating against the most vulnerable in society.
On the show, Ms McDonagh said: “It’s devastating – we did a survey in September and 50 percent of the customers we spoke to don’t have access to the internet or credit on their phone.”
She continued: “Some of the customers they are discriminating against have been with them for 30 years.”
What’s added fuel to the fire is that local residents were led to believe that the branch was closing because the lease was coming to an end.
However, they have since discovered that the lease still has over three years left to run.
Ms McDonagh said: “I am absolutely furious that Barclays would mislead a Member of Parliament and their longstanding and loyal customers in this way.
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“With over three years left to run on the lease, the decision to leave Mitcham is a slap in the face for my elderly and vulnerable constituents who rely on the accessibility and safety of their local bank branch.
“It’s yet another devastating hit to the high street”.
According to Which, Barclays has reduced its network of branches more than any other bank since 2015, with 650 branches closing, or scheduled to, by the end of 2021.
Overall, the number of bank branches open nationally has plummeted from 14,855 in 2010 to almost 50 percent less (7,675) by March 2020.
Banks say that they are just keeping up with the times as we edge closer to a cashless society.
However, half (50 percent) of customers surveyed outside this particular Barclays branch said that they did not have access to online banking.
And more than half (51 percent) had been using the branch for over 10 years with 65 percent of customers claiming that they use the branch more than three times per month.
Despite this the branch still looks set to close on October 20 2021, even though the bank’s lease does not expire until December 2024.
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Research by Age UK found that one in five older people still rely on cash for everyday spending.
Banks will have to find other ways for vulnerable people to get hold of their cash – the Labour MP is now working with the bank to help secure alternative services for the residents most severely impacted by this latest hit to the high street.
And in the meantime, she is asking Barclays to keep the branch open until the lease actually expires.
Express.co.uk asked Barclays to comment but as yet has not received a response.
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