How one of Britain’s oldest banks left the high street

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Barclays has also been criticized for cutting back staff in its branches and pushing customers to bank online. By the end of 2021, large signs were installed in approximately 500 Barclays stores directing customers to use self-service machines in the store instead of approaching an associate.

The signage told visitors: “Beware of bank changes in branches. For day-to-day banking, you now need to use our self-service terminals, the Barclays app or online banking.”

In August that year, leaflets appeared in a London branch asking people withdrawing less than £300 in cash to go to a vending machine rather than a ticket office. Even those customers lucky enough to have kept their local Barclays are not guaranteed a 9 to 5 manned service.

Barclays says only 2 percent of its branches now have no manned counters, but Mr French said there are several branches where the counters closed at 2pm.

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Savings collapse

Interest rates rose rapidly in 2022 as the Bank of England raised bank rates by more than three percentage points in 12 months.

But analysis shows that Barclays was the slowest provider to raise rates for easy-access savers. The Everyday Saver account paid an interest rate on deposits under £50,000 of just 0.01 per cent until last September – nine months after the Bank of England first raised bank rates.

Meanwhile, Halifax, Lloyds, Santander and NatWest all raised their interest rates on easy access savings from 0.01 percent in April, and HSBC did so in March, according to Savings Champion data.

Barclays did launch a Rainy Day Saver account in September, which paid 5 pc.

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Anna Bowes, co-founder of Savings Champion, said Barclays were still hesitant to pass on rate hikes to their customers.

She said: “We know that the big banks are paying some of the worst savings rates to their long-suffering customers, but in a year of rising interest rates it is shocking to see how slow some of them are to pass on the good news.”

And she added: “Today, although bank rates have risen by 3.4 percentage points, savers in the [Barclays] Everyday Saver still earns just 0.50 pc – up from just 0.49 pc.

“What makes this behavior even worse is that if the banks have excess money not used for lending or capital purposes, they can use the Bank of England as a piggy bank and earn Bank Rate – so currently 3.5 per cent.

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“Obviously the banks are not going to help their customers, so savers have to help themselves to make sure they earn as much as possible.”

The costs for customers

A customer who had £50,000 in savings in a Barclays Everyday Saver last year would have earned £67.07p in interest – the second least generous offer from the big banks, according to calculations by Savings Champion. Savers with the same balance in equivalent accounts at Halifax, HSBC and Natwest all earned more than £110.

Customers are also dissatisfied. Consumer campaign group Fairer Finance saw the bank’s rating by savers fall in three consecutive periods last year.

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