John Baron MP presses HSBC to stop closure of branch in Billericay
Banks are increasingly closing local branches but what about the elderly and vulnerable?
H.S.B.C. have just announced that they will be closing their Billericay High Street branch. As you all know, the branch is in my ward and many of my constituents use the branch.
Our local constituency Member of Parliament, John Baron M.P., was informed of the decision in writing by H.S.B.C. and has criticised the decision, which has been taken as part of a wider programme of branch closures across the country, consisting of sixty-nine branches in total. Customers will be written to formally on May 30th to inform them of alternative services, but we have been advised that administration of customer accounts will ultimately be transferred to the Basildon Town Centre branch.
John said: “This is disappointing news. The nearest alternative branch is nearly 5 miles away which will prove problematic for elderly and vulnerable customers who rely on in-branch services to manage their money. Furthermore, the town’s population is increasing. I have written to the Chief Executive of HSBC asking them to change their decision and will be meeting with the local management team.”
As the local ward councillor, I very much share John's concerns, so shall be liaising closely with his office over the issue. H.S.B.C. are, of course, not unique and they are not the first bank to close their local branch (which are fast becoming an endangered species in a great many high streets!). I think I broadly recognise that, for the banks, much has changed. In their letter, they advise that over the past five years the number of customers using branches has fallen by a third, nine in ten customers now do their banking online or over the phone, and 99% of all cash withdrawals are made at a cashpoint. So these trends were already well-established, even before the Covid-19 pandemic, which of course prompted most of the hold-outs, like myself, to finally give up the ghost and get to grips with online banking (I am a terrible Luddite in such matters).
Nonetheless, if you or somebody you know is affected by this decision, please do get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 07769 651708. There is support available through various agencies and banks themselves can offer 'financial education' (i.e., show you how to bank online). H.S.B.C. are offering one to one appointments to provide support, including training on telephone and internet banking and can even provide vulnerable customers with free tablet devices.
Many services, such as withdraw cash, checking balances, and depositing cheques, can also be accessed from the local Post Office.