Concerns raised with Prime Minister over bank branch closures in Doncaster towns

MP Caroline Flint raised concerns over the closure of the bank in Bawtry, pictured, and Thorne
MP Caroline Flint raised concerns over the closure of the bank in Bawtry, pictured, and Thorne

Doncaster MP Caroline Flint has raised concerns with the Prime Minster over the closures of RBS branches in two Doncaster towns in 2018.

Ms Flint raised the issue in Prime Minister's question time and reminded Teresa May that in June she had told the Commons she wanted “no one and no community left behind”.

Ms Flint told told her: “The Doncaster market towns of Thorne and Bawtry have just been told that their NatWest branches are to close.

"That is two more bank branch closures on top of a record-breaking 700 this year, despite the big four banks delivering £13.5 billion half-year profits. Will the Prime Minister admit that the Government’s access to banking protocol has failed to keep a single branch open, and will she restore the bank levy and use some of it to stop communities losing their last bank branch?

Mrs May said: "I responded to the leader of the Scottish National party earlier in relation to RBS closures, which I think is what the right hon. Lady is referring to. She and others need to accept that people’s behaviour in relation to bank branches has changed over the years and there is less demand, but we have the access to banking standard in place. She referred to the bank levy. Let us be very clear: there is a bank levy, and there is also a corporation tax surcharge for banks. This Government are raising more money from the banks than the Labour Government ever did."

Bawtry’s NatWest branch will close on May 30, 2018, the last bank in the town. The neighbouring market town of Tickhill lost its last bank, HSBC, in April 2015. Thorne will lose its NatWest Branch on June 5, 2018. In June, its HSBC branch closed.

Ms Flint has also raised the issue with Stephen Barclay, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, in a House of Commons committee meeting.

She told him: "I think all of us want to make sure that small branches in our rural and semi-rural areas are kept open. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree not only that, when these branches close, funds for small businesses shut down, but that, when the last bank in a community closes, as in Bawtry in my constituency, it is a major blow to the community the bank serves?"

Mr Barclay said: "The banking market is changing. As he will know, the use of cash has fallen by a fifth in the past decade. The number of branch visits has fallen by a third since 2011. More than a third of UK adults regularly use banking apps. Three fifths of customers are interacting with their current accounts via mobile apps, and more than 600,000 customers over 80 are registered with internet banking.

He said RBS has given six months’ notice—more than the three months required by the access to banking standard—to hold discussions about how facilities such as mobile banking can be used to mitigate some of the impacts, adding one of the key sources of mitigation was the post office network, in which the Government had 'invested significantly'.