Santander Closures and Local Communities — [Philip Davies in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 3:04 pm on 14th February 2019.

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Photo of John Woodcock John Woodcock Independent, Barrow and Furness 3:04 pm, 14th February 2019

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mr Rosindell. I thank David Linden for securing and organising this debate, which I was happy to support.

To strike a note that may be slightly discordant with the speeches of other hon. Members, I must say that I really value online banking. It has been transformative for me personally in terms of ease of access to finance, and we should not forget how many people’s lives it makes easier. I am cautious about unduly amplifying people’s fears about the security of transactions. Yes, there is clearly a big problem with online fraud—I myself was recently a victim to the tune of several thousand pounds—but it is a very small percentage of the overall number of transactions, and the risk lies squarely with the banks themselves. A genuine and proportionate look at the risks associated with online banking suggests that they are often outweighed by the level of convenience that it can bring if we increase people’s online access and computer literacy and ensure that they have a proper understanding.

It is ultimately futile, although it may be gratifying, to rail against individual banks every time they pull out of a high street. I am deeply disappointed that Santander is pulling out of Ulverston, especially given the track record of other banking institutions that have said they foresee only one set of closures, but then, a couple of years down the track or even sooner, close other branches as well. I am waiting for the figures that Santander said it would try to get for me about the busyness of the Barrow-in-Furness branch that customers will be transferred to.