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Age Concern warns about closure of NatWest branches

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CLOSING two NatWest branches will have a negative impact on over-65s and their ability to contribute spending to the local economy, Age Concern has said.

NatWest’s Cobo branch and the one at the Bridge will close in January. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 28686274)

The bank announced last week that the Cobo and St Sampson’s branches would shut.

‘Although we can understand that customer behaviour is changing with an increase of online banking, there are a significant number of adults and over-65s in our community who prefer to use face-to-face counter banking services available from NatWest at Cobo and St Sampson’s,’ Age Concern Guernsey chairman David Inglis said.

‘The facilities at the Cobo branch of NatWest are ideal for retired members of the community.

‘Its out-of-town location in a small community centre, easy parking and relatively accessible counter area made it a valued part of the Cobo village.

‘We are particularly concerned that NatWest has chosen this timing for the closure of two bank branches when the island should be encouraging as much appropriate activity and spending as residents can afford as part of the Revive & Thrive plan.’

The group said that it was recognised during the Covid-19 pandemic that over-65s were among other less well-off members of the community who did not use the internet or got updates from family and friends.

‘This age group are more familiar with traditional ways of managing their money and what they can afford to spend.

‘They are also susceptible to financial scams targeted at the most vulnerable members of society.

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‘We hope every effort will be made to keep a good distribution of counter banking services in Guernsey.

‘A variety of services, locations and choices for all customers will benefit our whole community.

‘In particular though, we need to recognise that putting anything in the way of over-65s being able to withdraw cash and bank the way that they prefer could reduce the amount they spend.

‘More worryingly, the reduction in counter services could expose them to greater risk from less traditional methods of banking that they are not familiar with yet.’

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The reduction of the branch network in Guernsey will come into effect from 7 January 2021, says NatWest International.

Two branches apiece are also closing in Jersey and the Isle of Man, while the banking group is looking to reduce the headcount by 10% across the business – excluding Luxembourg.

The changes come as NatWest International says more people use digital and online banking.

n Age Concern Guernsey provides group activities and representation for retired islanders.

Anyone who would like to join or returning members who would like to find out more about meetings or transport can contact David Inglis on 263228.

Weekly Age Concern Guernsey meetings take place from 2pm to 4pm on Tuesdays at Vale Douzaine Room; Wednesdays at The Western Centre at Styx; Thursdays at St Stephen’s Church Hall and Fridays at St Martin’s Parish Hall.

Nick Mann

By Nick Mann
author

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