NatWest ‘mean-spirited’ for charging charities

LOCAL charities have reacted angrily to a bank’s decision to start charging them to hold accounts, a move that could cost good causes £20,000 a year.

Peter Rose from the Association of Guernsey Charities has criticised NatWest for imposing monthly charges on charities who hold accounts with the bank. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29448611)
Peter Rose from the Association of Guernsey Charities has criticised NatWest for imposing monthly charges on charities who hold accounts with the bank. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29448611)

Association of Guernsey Charities vice-chairman Peter Rose condemned the decision by NatWest as mean-spirited.

‘This has come at the worst possible time,’ he said.

‘NatWest are not looking at the community picture. It seems rather mean-spirited and will take up to £20,000 a year out of charity funds at a time when most have been severely constrained [by Covid] from raising funds.’

The amount was a huge sum for the charitable sector to lose, but a drop in the bucket for a bank like NatWest, he said.

‘It’s not what you expect to see as good practice from a good corporate company.’

NatWest has announced that non-personal customers would be charged £10 a month plus £2.50 per non-automated transaction from May, with no exemption for charities. The bank said this would enable it to invest in digital services and create a sustainable business able to ‘serve generations of business owners to come’.

The AGC estimated that at least 120 of its 300-plus members would be affected. Many have expressed serious concerns.

The association has been in contact with senior management at NatWest to see if the bank would reconsider its decision or waive charges for registered charities, but that has been rejected.

While Mr Rose, a retired private bank manager, understood the reason for bank charges, he said this presented another challenge to organisations focused on delivering help to the community.

NatWest said decisions like these were not taken lightly. However, the cost to provide some manual, branch-based, operations was increasing per transaction and was reflected in the increase in charges.

Digital payments continue to be free for customers.

‘We value the role these customers play to both us and to our communities, which is why we have had to make changes to our fees and charges to ensure we are here for them now and in the future,’ the spokesman said.

‘We value enterprise and are working with a number of our local businesses across our jurisdictions to support their needs outside of banking, around enterprise, as well as providing support to those businesses who are not yet using our digital services but would like to.

‘Our approach to fees and charges is one of complete openness and transparency. There are no hidden fees or charges designed to catch customers out.’

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