'NatWest bank branch closure has 'debanked' Peak District and alienated vulnerable and elderly customers'

'NatWest bank branch closure has 'debanked' Peak District and alienated vulnerable and elderly customers'

Sarah Dines MP visits NatWest HQ to protest against branch closure

Sarah Dines MP

By Sarah Dines MP

Published: 27/02/2024

- 13:58

Updated: 28/02/2024

- 12:01

Sarah Dines MP tells GB News members why she is campaigning for access to physical banking after NatWest closed its Bakewell bank branch

NatWest are up to their same old tricks. Not content with ‘debanking’ a prominent politician, they have now ‘debanked’ the whole of the Peak District.

Last Thursday the last bank in the Peak District, Bakewell NatWest, closed its doors.

Despite a local petition with over 3,000 signatures, letters, phone calls, emails and a last-minute in-person meeting with their Managing Director (for ‘engagement’), Ragheu Narula, NatWest failed to listen to reason.

They ‘debanked’ the Peak District and in doing so have alienated many vulnerable, elderly people, businesses and farmers, their customers – my constituents.

NatWest Bakewell bank branch and branch closure notice beside Sarah Dines MP

Sarah Dines MP has accused NatWest of "debanking" the Peak District with the latest bank branch closure


NatWest in their communication with me have continued to hide behind corporate jargon, that frankly means nothing to the common-sense, straight-talking residents of Derbyshire Dales.

They say they will help residents ‘transition’ to online banking.

I still have not worked out what this means or how they plan to help my elderly residents who do not have access to a mobile phone signal, let alone an internet connection.

NatWest has always maintained that its reason for closing the branch is that it only had six regular customers. When I asked how they came to this statistic, I was originally told that a regular customer was someone who used the bank every week for 52 weeks a year.

This was then changed and "defined as a customer that uses the branch at least once a week for a period of 6 months".

In real terms what this means is that if a business or elderly resident withdrawing their pension uses the bank every week, apart from one week in a six-month period, when they may have been on holiday or away on business or ill, they are not classed as a regular customer.

I am sure you will agree with me that is just ridiculous.

This whole situation has shown me that there is a problem with access to banks nationally and as I mentioned on GB News recently, I have started my campaign to build on the government’s welcome work on access to cash, in an effort to extend this to access to physical banking.

Choice is something I hold dear and this engineered lack of choice by the banks in forcing my constituents online, is a symptom of a much wider problem, one I feel we all have a duty to fight against.

Digital exclusion has a severe impact on our vulnerable, elderly, and rural communities.

When essential services are going digital by default what happens in my constituency where due to its rural nature, getting a phone signal, let alone an internet signal is not always a given?

It isn’t just banking, but a whole host of everyday tasks such as medical appointments, paying for parking and accessing council services that have moved online.

I cannot help but think of my elderly constituent who in the last week of the Bakewell bank being open asked the cashiers to give her four weeks of her pension, holding back tears she explained that she did not know how to get money beyond that point.

That lady deserves better. She is of that generation that gave so much to our country and is now being increasingly marginalised.

I am passionate about making sure residents have a choice when it comes to accessing services and the default should not just be digital.

A spokesperson for NatWest previously said: “As with many industries, most of our customers are shifting to mobile and online banking because it’s faster and easier for people to manage their financial lives.

“We understand and recognise that digital solutions aren’t right for everyone or every situation, and that when we close branches we have to make sure that no one is left behind.

“We take our responsibility seriously to support the people who face challenges in moving online, so we are investing to provide them with support and alternatives that work for them.”

You may like