Never a truer word was spoken when Debbie Crosbie, boss of the TSB, admitted the bank’s performance was “not good enough” after another computer glitch locked 1.9 million of its customers out of their online accounts.
Debbie replaced Paul Pester as CEO in May 2018, after he left when the bank that likes to say Yes was suddenly forced to say No to 5.2 million distraught customers, after the bank suffered its first computer systems meltdown. The catastrophic IT failing ended up costing the TSB and their worried Spanish parent company Banco Sabadell, over £366 million, a cost which pushed them into the red.
Meltdowns which Debbie admits to being very “disappointed” over, promising that the TSB “was going to get better”. Then, in a festive cracker, she promptly announced that the bank, in a major cost-cutting drive, is going to axe 86 branches, 17 in Scotland, and cut up to 400 jobs.
Why exactly are you disappointed, Debbie? Are you concerned for your soon-to-be redundant staff or customers who will no longer have a local branch? Or, if the truth be known, is it because this latest costly glitch and resultant drop in share value has seen your festive bonus shoot up the chimney like a note to Santa?
Are you disappointed because you haven’t as yet managed the expectations of your concerned shareholders and Spanish owners? As for getting better? Better at what and better for who exactly? Better service and customer relations? Better interest and more attractive customer lending rates? Or better at protecting the bottom line by all means necessary such as embarking on a devastating programme of branch closures, job cuts and removal of the means to lay our hands on real cash?
Over the past five years there have been more than 3,300 bank branch closures spread right across the UK, and that figure is set to double in the next five years.
Unsurprisingly, the bailed-out RBS is the worst offender, with 74% of its UK branches now closed, as well as 49% of their sister bank NatWest. The Co-Op sits in second place with 69% and all the others including Bank of Scotland varying between 31% and 47%.
The associated job losses have been horrendous and coupled, with an accelerated closure rate of cash points, the lack of banking facilities and access to cash, they have had a cataclysmic impact on struggling rural communities, especially here in Scotland, which has an unenviable closure rate of 38%.
Yet with another General Election looming none of the main UK political parties mentions this appalling state of affairs in their manifestos.
Not one of them has promised to hold our banks to account and introduce laws to force them to change their ways and protect communities. None of them seem to care: consumed and distracted as they are with Brexit, the NHS, and the Union.
Only the SNP have pledged to fight bank, ATM and post office closures. But let’s face it, if pollsters are correct and the Tories win big on the 12th and there is no hung parliament, there is next to no chance that any of their demands will be listened to.
Cash for now, may still be king, but sadly unless all parties agree to stop it being outlawed by our banks and insist that they stop closing branches and give it some protection, then it won’t be long before it is dethroned and replaced by computer software, plastic cards and microchips.
And we all know how nothing can go wrong with computers, don’t we?