Banks ‘must support elderly’

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Hundreds of thousands of older people have been left without access to banking services due to the closure of almost 10,000 banks and building societies over the last 25 years.

A report from the charity Age UK said banks and building societies must step up their efforts to support the needs of older customers – and warned that despite the rise in online banking, 4.5m over-65s remain “digitally excluded” across the UK.

The charity said customers in rural and semi-rural communities had been particularly hit by branch closures.

According to the Campaign for Community Banking Services, 53 per cent of banks – 9,500 in total – have closed since January 1990.

It highlighted Bedale in North Yorkshire as one community that lost two banks in 2015 – NatWest and HSBC – with the remaining bank, Barclays, offering reduced opening hours.

Age UK said that if some initiatives by financial firms, such as telebanking, enhanced use of the Post Office, and mobile branches, were rolled out more widely this could “revolutionise” the way in which they interact with older people.

Other ways to create an age-friendly bank include staff training, accessible branches and better call handling systems.