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Bring back face-to-face banking, insist elderly

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Campaigners are demanding new guarantees in the Financial Services and Markets Bill (FSMB) to protect bank and Post Office branches from closure. Other activities pensioners only want to carry out in-branch include starting bereavement procedures (29 percent), opening new or additional accounts (28 percent) or amending or cancelling direct debits or standing orders (25 percent).

More than one in five also want to undertake tasks in person like authorising third-party access (21 percent) or applying for a loan (23 percent).

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “We believe the rapid move towards online banking over the past few years has caused huge problems for many older customers.

“Either for health or personal reasons they are not able to move online.

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“These difficulties are exacerbated when branch closures coincide with poor public transport, a lack of ATMs, and inadequate internet service and mobile reception.

“We urge the Government to amend the Bill to include the protection of a wider range of essential in-branch services which will make it easier for millions of older customers to manage their finances in the years to come.

Banks and building societies have closed thousands of branches across the UK over the last few years leaving many older people struggling to access basic banking services.

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Although one-half of older participants do use online banking, Age UK says there are still significant numbers of older people who are digitally excluded or unable to manage their finances online because of health issues or a lack of knowledge or confidence.

Others are unable to meet the costs of having a broadband connection and buying the hardware – likely to be an increasing problem as the cost-of-living crisis deepens.

Many also feel uncomfortable with using online banking with 38 percent of those aged over 75 and 21 percent of those aged 65-74 having doubts about fraud and the use of technology.

Face-to-face banking, using counter services is still the main way in which 34 percent of those aged 75 and over who have a bank account manage their account.

The research also found how important access to cash is for the older generation.

With high inflation continuing to squeeze people’s incomes, 2.4m pensioners rely on cash to help them budget their finances.

The FSMB should also pressure the Financial Conduct Authority to ensure that elderly customers who cannot get to a branch should be able to access cash and make deposits, Age UK said.

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