Nationwide the latest bank to desert older people in Mitcham

By Lottie Limb
March 4 2020, 12.00

Older people in Mitcham feel left behind as Nationwide closed its local branch on 21 February. 

It is the third bank to leave the high street in recent years, following the departures of NatWest and HSBC in 2016.

According to data gathered by Which? last year, Mitcham and Morden constituency lost a third of its bank and building society branches since January 2015.

Joy Welsh, a retired nurse, said: “I think it’s sad, as it’s going to become a ghost town if banks and building societies keep closing down.”

While many people have moved to online banking, Joy feels unable to do so. 

She said: “It’s okay for you young kids, but for us older people the stories you hear are worrying – I don’t trust all the information one has to give online.”

Amanda Calver, 67, a National Trust employee, believes that human interaction is important. 

“Although I’m quite old, I don’t mind using plastic. But if you are able bodied you tend to forget that there are a lot of people who really can’t get further than their local town,” she said.

“It’s important to have a whole town rather than bits.”

Local charity shops are worried that the lack of bank may dissuade people from coming down London Road in the first place.

Over three years on, the old NatWest site still stands boarded up across the road from the now vacant Nationwide.

For Nationwide customers wanting a face-to-face meeting on financial matters, the nearest branch is now just under two miles away in Morden.

12.5% of Merton’s population is aged over 65, and it is people in this demographic who may be most affected.

Rob Clarke, chief executive of Age UK Merton, said: “We are disappointed to hear about the closure of the Nationwide branch in Mitcham. 

“We feel it will affect local older adults negatively with wide consequences, including the concerning risk of people having more cash on their person and in their properties. 

“Local amenities like banks help older adults to stay connected and keep active, so we would urge Nationwide to reconsider this decision or look at other solutions to help older people access these essential services.”

A statement from Nationwide read: “We’ll always do our best to keep our branches open. 

“There are some towns and cities where we have more than one branch. 

“Sometimes one of those branches is used much less than the others or will cost too much to bring up to the standards we think you deserve. 

“Unfortunately, that’s what’s happened in the case of Mitcham.”

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