'Body blow': Crouch End NatWest bank to close
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An MP has called for banks to show “social responsibility for communities” after yet another high street branch announced it was closing down.
Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West, who has started a petition to save the Crouch End branch, said: "It’s not good enough to try and push everyone online. Millions of people, particularly the elderly, vulnerable and those on lower incomes still need in-person access to vital banking services.
“I’d like to see the government do more to end these damaging closures and for banks to step up and use some of their vast profits to show social responsibility for the communities they serve.”
David Winskill, whose family have banked at the Crouch End branch for nearly 70 years, called the closure a "body blow" for customers – and that the most vulnerable will bear the biggest impact.
"The staff have been consistently brilliant," David said. "They got to know my mother as she started to suffer dementia and were fantastically supportive – I’ve no idea how she would have coped having to use a branch miles away.
"The 150 or so small businesses that use the branch are now faced with some difficult choices – many of them are already under acute pressure as they deal with the impacts of the pandemic."
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NatWest pointed to a 30% fall in counter transactions for Crouch End customers between 2017 and 2019.
A spokesperson for the bank, which recorded profits of nearly £1bn in the first three months of this year, said: “As with many industries, most of our customers are shifting to mobile and online banking, because it’s faster and easier for people to manage their financial lives.
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“We understand and recognise that digital solutions aren’t right for everyone or every situation, and that when we close branches we have to make sure that no one is left behind.
“We take our responsibility seriously to support the people who face challenges in moving online, so we are investing to provide them with support and alternatives that work for them.”
The next nearest NatWest is in Muswell Hill, with other banks in Crouch End including Halifax and Barclays.
Research from consumer firm Which shows that since January 2015 around 4,299 banks and building societies have closed, or are scheduled to – at a rate of approximately 50 every month.