Citizens Advice is warning that Dorset’s rural communities have been hit hard by bank closures – especially in the wake of the coronavirus lockdowns.
Between December 2019 and January 2020, Citizens Advice Dorset carried out a survey across Dorset towns including Swanage and Wareham, asking residents about their access to banks.
They found that more than a third (37 per cent) of those polled said they had increased difficulty managing their finances as a result of bank closures.
More than half didn’t use their Post Office
The survey also found that more than half didn’t use their Post Office for banking services, despite them being able to offer most of the services of a local bank.
In addition, 22 per cent were unable to use online banking, either due to lack of technological skills or poor internet connection in rural areas.
All that is left of the former bank in Institute Road in Swanage is a cashpoint and the building is now a shop
COVID-19 “added to the stress”
This survey was carried out before the Covid-19 pandemic led to a nationwide lockdown.
Citizens Advice adds that the pandemic has caused even greater issues for people who might have trouble accessing banking services.
Rovarn Wickremasinghe from Citizens Advice Dorset research and campaigns group said:
“The pandemic may have added to the stress and worry of not being able to access a bank.
“If you are unable to do online banking, we would recommend checking with your nearest Post Office to see what banking services are available, or alternatively telephone your bank to see if they can help you.”
Citizens Advice Dorset offers advice for anyone struggling with financial difficulties. The advice helpline can be reached on 0800 144 8848 or go to its website