82% of people feel bank closures‘ detrimental’ to local communities

More than eight in ten people (82%) say bank closures around the country will have a detrimental effect on customers and communities, while four in ten intend to switch their banking provider if their local branch closes.

A new survey by Peopl Insurance, a nationwide provider of home and life insurance, has found that an overwhelming majority of respondents are critical of branch closures, agreeing that the reduction in personal, face-to-face service, and the resulting job losses within communities are likely negative outcomes.

The survey comes in the wake of notices to Ulster Bank and KBC customers alerting them of the timeframe in which they have to switch their accounts to a new bank before each provider withdraws from the retail banking sector in Ireland.

Speaking of the findings, Paul Walsh, CEO of Peopl.ie, commented: “In recent years, banks and post offices have closed branches in towns and villages of Ireland. In one month alone last year, Bank of Ireland closed two branches in Roscommon.

Ulster Bank’s departure from the market will see a further 63 branches nationwide close their doors. Hundreds of thousands of customers will be inconvenienced, at the very least, as a result of these closures. Our survey indicates the resounding concern amongst the general public over the knock-on consequences of these closures on communities around the country, with 82% agreeing that the withdrawal of local branches holds little reward for consumers or communities”.

Mr. Walsh added that dwindling public services in rural areas has caused concern for communities at the coalface of cuts.

“The loss of a local branch, one in which we are known, can get good advice and access more important financial products such as mortgages, savings and investments, leaves very few options. In many communities we see Credit Unions looking to step into this role and expand their services to address the ‘relationship gap’,” he said.

While from a business perspective, over-the-counter banking may be becoming a thing of the past – our survey shows that there is large appetite out there and demand to retain these services within communities, for both their social and economic benefits”.