I have been informed by Barclays of their intention to close their Kidsgrove branch on Friday 11th August, and their Newcastle-under-Lyme branch on Friday 25th August.
This is extremely disappointing news and leaves the great town of Kidsgrove without a bank in its town centre.
I know that many people struggle to the navigate complicated and frustrating mobile banking apps and automated systems. Alongside this, given that around 10 per cent of the rural population now live at least 10 miles away from a bank, these closures will create significant problems for the disabled and less elderly.
This is on top of the impact the branch’s closure will have on local businesses that depend on the bank to deposit their earnings. Unfortunately, this will also have a knock-on impact on the high street, as banks drive people to local shops, cafes and restaurants.
Barclays cite their reasoning for closing as "the way people bank today is unrecognisable from 50 years ago”. However, a recent survey by Accenture found that one third of British people would still rather do all their banking in person. Whilst 44 per cent of over-55s said they would rather visit a branch, the findings also highlight that it is not just older generations who would rather visit a branch in person, with the survey finding that one fifth of young people would also much prefer to visit a branch.
As such, I am working hard alongside my colleague, Aaron Bell MP, to urge Barclays to reverse their decision. On Tuesday 16 May, Aaron and I met with David Bruce, Head of Corporate Relations for Barclays’ Central Region, and had constructive discussions. They informed me that Barclays will continue to “have a presence in the local community... so long as there’s demand for it” and are actively reaching out to over one hundred of their most vulnerable customers to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible. Barclays in Kidsgrove was at the epicentre of the local community, and I will work tirelessly to ensure that it does not close.
David Bruce, Barclays, said:
"Following the branch closures we are seeking to provide a continued presence in the community via a new alternative physical touchpoint, either at a local retail outlet or via a local community space. As we discussed, this is aimed at providing dedicated in person colleague support for customers with complex financial needs and non-transactional services, without the need for travel. Our current plan is to provide 5 days per week in Newcastle-under-Lyme and 3 days per week in Kidsgrove”.
For more details on Barclays Local and their new banking strategy, please visit https://home.barclays/news/press-releases/2023/01/flexible-banking-strategy/
I am very aware that older and vulnerable customers will find it difficult to travel to Barclays branches, further away from their home and the local area, and therefore this issue was stressed to David Bruce, who responded to say that:
“Barclays are in the process of proactively contacting our more vulnerable and elderly personal customers who we have identified may need additional help to discuss how they can continue to bank with us following the closure. This offering includes one to one Tea and Teach sessions to support their digital skills capability, alongside sharing the services available at the nearby Post Office, and in due course, the alternative community banking presence we are seeking to put in place.”
Many constituents in the local and wider area have been in touch to share this disappointment, as well as concerns about this decision which leaves Kidsgrove without a bank.
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