Responding to the announcement of widespread Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank (CYBG) branch closures, including branches in Hull, Goole, Wath upon Dearne and Sheffield, Gordon Millward, Regional Chairman of the FSB, said: “These closures come at a time when small firms across Yorkshire are already struggling to access banking services. Increased reliance on limited Post Office facilities and poor broadband connectivity have seriously impacted the ability of small businesses to bank effectively. This hurts their productivity and, ultimately, their bottom line.
“While we welcome CYBG’s commitment to invest in digital innovation in light of the closures, our research shows that small businesses feel there is no substitute for in-person advice when tackling complex financial matters. Physical branches are also a critical resource for our many members who deal heavily in cash, and therefore need regular access to over-the-counter banking facilities.
“The UK’s bank branch network has halved in size to just over 8,000 in the past 25 years. This has restricted small business output – the lifeblood of our economy. What’s more, we know that awareness of the Access to Banking Protocol, designed to protect vulnerable customers in the event of a branch closure, is nowhere near as high as it should be.
“We welcomed the inclusion of many FSB recommendations in Professor Russell Griggs’s review of the Protocol published at the end of last year. The onus is now on every bank to agree a date to implement the recommendations of this review quickly and effectively.”