Danske Bank branch closure planned for Saintfield branch plus three others in NI is a blow to businesses and consumers says FSB
Danske Bank branch closure planned for Saintfield branch plus three others in NI is a blow to businesses and consumers says the Federation of Small Business (FSB).
Although the bank insists there will be no job losses, it indicated that by Friday 7th June 2024 the Saintfield branch plus four others across Northern Ireland will be closed.
Alan Lowry, FSB`s NI Policy Chair, says that Danske Bank’s decision to close a further four branches in Northern Ireland “is a blow to businesses and consumers.”
He said it is turning many communities into a “banking wasteland, limiting access to cash and shrinking an increasingly fragile free-to-use ATM network.”
Alan Lowry added: “Danske Bank’s announcement of the closure of a further four branches in Saintfield and in Carrickfergus, Knock and Shipquay Place in Derry/Londonderry, is very disappointing to say the least.
“These closures further erode access to banking facilities in towns and city centres and will be a blow to businesses and consumers. Banks used to be right at the centre of bustling communities across Northern Ireland.
“But unfortunately many are a banking wasteland as banks use the cover of ‘changing customer behaviour’ to reinforce profit margins.
“It is important to note that not only does this announcement include the closure of branches, but also cash machines, further limiting access to cash.
“This has been repeated all too often across Northern Ireland and beyond.
“That is why FSB welcomed the opportunity to respond to a recent consultation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), who aim to protect and widen access to cash.
“The FCA was given the task in the Financial Services and Markets Act from last year of “seeking to ensure reasonable provision” of cash deposit and withdrawal facilities, for business and personal customers.
“We will ask the FCA to measure the actions of Danske Bank against responsibilities to maintain access to cash. They deserve close examination.
“However, we do not believe that the FCA proposals adequately address the ongoing decline in cash access infrastructure, with bank branch closures continuing at an alarming rate, and a shrinking and increasingly fragile free-to-use ATM network.
“The consultation also overlooks essential services such as local cash deposit facilities for small business owners, and assisted cash services that offer personal interaction.
“With Danske Bank being unable to offer any guarantees about the size of their network in the future, it is important that the Financial Conduct Authority moves swiftly to examine the actions of banks, especially when they are closing the last bank in town.”
Saintfield has a busy sector of thriving shops and local businesses and a significant population who commute to Belfast daily to work. The closure of the long-established Danke Bank in the town will be hard felt.
Danske Bank Announces Network Branch Changes
Danske Bank has announced that it will be closing four of its branches later this year – in Saintfield, Carrickfergus, Knock and at Shipquay Place in Derry/Londonderry.
And the bank has indicated that there would be no job losses as a result of the branch closures.
The branches will close by Friday 7 June and there will be no job losses.
Commenting on the announcement, Aisling Press, Danske Bank’s Managing Director of Personal Banking, said: “The world around us is always changing, and alongside that we’ve seen changes to how people choose to do their banking.
“Many of our customers are now using alternative ways to bank with us, like through our digital solutions, banking on the phone or in the Post Office.
“Over the past two years, we’ve seen a 25% increase in customer logins to our digital channels.
“We have to respond to these changes, and a key part of that is reviewing and adapting how we invest in our customer solutions for the future.
“Sometimes, that will include investing more in our branches.
“In the past eight years, we’ve invested around £8 million in transformational upgrades to a number of our branches, most recently at our Forestside branch in Belfast and Abbeycentre branch in Newtownabbey.
“Sometimes it also means we need to make difficult decisions to close certain branches that are being used less.
“This isn’t an easy decision to make, and we consider lots of factors including the customer impact of the closure and alternative services nearby.
“I have written to customers of Saintfield branch to assure them that we’re still committed to continuing to meet their banking needs, and to share the different ways they can continue to bank with us.
“In our branches and on our website, we’ve also published a customer guide which goes into more detail on factors we considered before making our decision as well as more information on other ways to bank with us.”
Aisling added: “Over the coming weeks and after the closures, customers will be able to get additional support in any of our branches, from our local contact centre and, where applicable, from their Business Manager.
“If any of our customers have concerns, I would encourage them to please speak to us – we’ll continue to support them through this change.”
Danske Bank continues to invest in both its digital channels and its day-to-day banking services Aisling Press added.
Through the Bank’s relationship with the Post Office, personal and business customers with a debit card can check their account balances, withdraw cash and make cash lodgements at any UK Post Office, as well as being able to lodge cheques using a pre-printed envelope and credit slip at any Post Office in Northern Ireland.
After 7 June, Danske Bank will have a network of 24 branches across Northern Ireland.
- Customers have been informed of the branch closures, and that their existing sort codes and account numbers will not be changing. They do not need to take any action.
- The external cash machine in Saintfield will also be removed on 7 June 2024.
- Danske Bank’s locally based customer contact centre – offering telephone, email and online support – is available six days a week (Monday to Friday 8am – 6pm and Saturday 9am – 1pm).
- Service advisers there are able to carry out a range of transactions including reviewing withdrawals and deposits, transferring money between accounts, paying selected bills or making payments to other accounts – as well as general service queries.
- Outside of this, there are 24/7 lines for lost or stolen cards and reporting fraud.
- Branch closure customer guides, explaining the impact considered for customers and alternatives to banking, for all four locations have been published and are available at he impacted branches on the Bank’s website : danskebank.co.uk/branchchange.