DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Don't blame closures on bank's customers

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Don’t blame closures on bank’s customers

Who is to blame for the unpopular bank closures blighting communities up and down the country?

HSBC boss Ian Stuart has the answer – and it’s not him or other lavishly-paid executives at Britain’s grasping lenders.

With breath-taking effrontery, he claims the culprit is… you, the customer.

Banks are shedding thousands of branches, he says, because most people look after their finances online.

HSBC boss Ian Stuart says banks are shedding thousands of branches because most people look after their finances online

But many took up internet banking reluctantly, only because the profit-hungry banks were implementing a programme of branch closures. Chicken – or egg?

Of course, digital banking has huge benefits, allowing us to spend less of our days on the time-consuming routines of depositing and withdrawing cash.

But millions, especially the elderly, find it an alien concept and rightly believe it makes them more vulnerable to fraud.

Yes, banks must keep an eye on their bottom line. But don’t they also have a responsibility to provide a lifeline for those who prefer to deal with real people?

Fixing the forces

The revelation that Britain, a once-great military power, would now struggle to deploy a 25,000-strong Army division to fight a war is shocking and unforgiveable.

Yes, No10 insists we have Europe’s biggest defence budget. But for years our forces have been short-changed and run down.

To make matters worse, no funding has been committed to replace the ammunition, tanks and other hardware we’ve sent to Ukraine, leaving us dangerously exposed.

So we support top brass and MPs who are urging Rishi Sunak not to waver on ambitious pledges to build up our military.

We all know times are tough. But Russia, China and other hostile regimes are watching. Defence spending is the price of freedom from tyranny.

The Lord’s Pronoun

In the name of inclusion, the Church of England may start referring to God using non-gendered language, including dropping the masculine pronouns ‘He’ and ‘Him’ from liturgies and removing the words ‘Our Father’ from the Lord’s Prayer.

Could this kind of risible, politically-correct posturing – which breaks with centuries of religious tradition – have anything to do with the catastrophic decline in Anglican congregations?

Needless distraction?

If anyone thought Mr Sunak would be content carrying out a minor reshuffle, they were sorely mistaken.

He has instead reorganised Whitehall by boldly creating three new departments.

This paper shares his aspiration of harnessing science and technology to create a new Silicon Valley in the UK.

Giving energy its own department is also welcome, and Energy Secretary Grant Shapps must inject some realism. Reaching net-zero by 2050 is an admirable ambition, but fossil fuels will be needed for decades to keep the lights on. We are pleased, too, the impressive Kemi Badenoch will head up the Business and Trade Department.

And yet… isn’t there a danger that this is the organisational equivalent of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic?

Doesn’t it risk giving civil servants another excuse to block policy and waste time arguing over logos and letter-heads?

If Mr Sunak really wanted to shake up Whitehall he might have got the work from home malingerers back into the office.

With time running short before the next election, the PM must still stop illegal immigration, slash inflation and tackle the NHS backlog. Rewiring Whitehall takes time and energy. The risk is it will distract No10 from delivering on voters’ priorities.

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