Lloyds has obviously listened to the concerns of BTU and its members and is planning to reduce the level of support offered to customers from Phase 4 to Phase 3 of its Covid-19 Strategy Scale. It’s a step in the right direction but the bank needs to go further.
In a previous Newsletter entitled “Think Again, Jo” we said that in the light of the warnings by the Government and the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, about the spread of the new variant, Lloyds needed to revisit the issue of essential banking quickly. We said: “……..that the situation now is significantly worse than it was in March. We are dealing with a mutated virus, which we are told is up to 70% more transmissible. In a message yesterday, Professor Chris Whitty said: “Every unnecessary interaction you have could be the link in a chain of transmission which has a vulnerable person at the end”. Lloyds shouldn’t, however unwittingly, be encouraging customers to leave home simply to do a bit of unnecessary banking. The responsible thing for all banks to do, including Lloyds, is to limit activities to essential banking only until at least the middle of February. Lloyds know that as well as we do”.
Jo Harris, Managing Director, Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland has reacted quickly and positively to our concerns, but we still think the bank should go back to Phase 1 and restrict the services offered to customers. Mrs. Harris says: “We continue to provide our full range of services for customers who come into our branch, because it is impossible to clearly define what is ‘essential’ and what is not. Something that may seem quite simple to us could be absolutely necessary for our customers”.
Sorry, but that’s just an excuse for doing nothing. It’s not impossible to define essential banking, we did it in the first lockdown. And to be honest, customers will always argue something is “absolutely necessary”. Last week we had a customer who insisted on depositing bags of coins into his personal account despite the fact that, according to our member, he had “a very healthy bank balance”. Again, members tell us they have customers who just visit their branches because they’re open and they’ve got nothing better to do. That’s unacceptable. Most customers will accept that essential banking is for their benefit and there to protect members of staff. Those that don’t accept that, should be told to bank elsewhere. It’s only going to be for a few weeks.
Members with any questions on this should contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).