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Small firms voice concerns at bank branch closures

The Luton branch is due to close at the end of this month, with the Bedford branch shutting its doors in the autumn.

The Bedfordshire branch of the Federation of Small businesses is calling on the government to assess the economic impact of branch closures in terms of productivity. “The UK is struggling with productivity issues and having your local branch close does not help,” said FSB Bedfordshire branch leader Charlie Smith.

  • Pictured: Charlie Smith

RBS says the closures are necessary after its decision not to sell its Williams & Glyn division. Mr Smith said: “It is thoroughly disappointing to see RBS using the failed sale of Williams & Glyn as an excuse to further decimate Bedfordshire’s bank branch network. There will be no face to face presence anywhere in the county for RBS customers whether commercial or domestic.

“This fresh round of closures will hurt high streets in the county at a time when thousands of small businesses  are already struggling. When a bank branch goes, it means less footfall, less cash in the local economy and less revenue for local small firms as a result.”

Small businesses that cannot regularly pay in their takings become potential targets for theft, he added. “Many small business owners have built up relationships with branch personnel that go back years – that is not something that can be replaced by an app.”

The FSB has its own banking services for members in partnership with the Co-op Bank, of which there is a branch in in Alma Street, Luton. “If small businesses are losing their bank’s local branch, if makes even more sense to look seriously at this and other options  to meet their  banking needs,” Mr Smith said.

He added:We would like to see the government identify the impact of branch closures on economic activity in places  like Bedford and Luton which would state  what costs are being imposed on businesses in terms of productivity and whether these are forcing small business owners into inefficient practices.” 

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