Sick of bank branch closures? Building society fights back across North East, Cumbria and North Yorkshire

Photo by Alex Ingram
Are you sick of bank branch closures? Meet the building society fighting back in North East, Cumbria and North Yorkshire

In many towns and cities, the growth of online shopping and the popularity of out-of-town retail outlets have changed the face of our high streets over recent years. And it’s hard to ignore the fact that the rise of digital banking is having an impact on the number of bank branches and the availability of financial services in our communities.

With more than 5,000 bank branches across the UK closing since 2015, people who don’t have access to digital banking, or those who prefer to manage their money in person might well worry about the future of the once-familiar bank branch.

However, one building society is gaining attention in the region by bucking the national trend of branch closures and coming up with new ways to restore access to financial services in its communities.

Growing number of branches

Newcastle Building Society has 31 branches across the North East, North Yorkshire and Cumbria – a number which has actually grown over recent years – and despite the number of branch closures by others around the UK, says its commitment to face-to-face financial services is only getting stronger.

Michael Conville, chief customer officer at Newcastle Building Society said: “Customers tell us again and again that they’re worried about the future of branches. As an organisation owned by our Members we’re constantly thinking about how to serve our communities better and we’re absolutely committed to investing in our branches and growing access to local financial services.

“Branches aren’t cheap to run, but instead of admitting defeat and pulling down the shutters, we’re taking a fresh approach, working with local people and finding new ways to make branches work for our communities. That includes rethinking what the branch might look like and showing what can be achieved when you’ve got customers’ best interests at heart.”

Community partnership branches

One of the ways Newcastle Building Society has been able to open more branches when others around them close is through its innovative community partnership branch. Since 2016 the Society has opened in four new locations – Yarm, Hawes, Wooler, and Knaresborough, each time working with local partners to open a new branch in a space shared with other local services.

The Society is also investing in its presence in Newcastle city centre, with plans to open a brand new flagship community branch at Monument in 2024.

Michael added: “There’s a real risk of financial exclusion in places where banks have left town. Often that impacts the most vulnerable and makes people more reliant on others to help manage their money. The community partnership branch works when there is a real need for financial services and a clear desire from local people and leaders to work together to bring those essential services back to the high street. It’s been a success for us in four places already, and we’re working on more community branches all the time.”

Sticking with tradition

As well as its commitment to branches, Newcastle Building Society is sticking with some of the more traditional ways of keeping up to date with your savings. Through listening to their Members, they are continuing to offer the savings passbook, which many banks and building societies are phasing out.

To find out more about what they can do for you, pop into your local branch or find yours by clicking here.