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Norwich & Peterborough Building Society customers ‘don’t have to take any action at this stage’

The Norwich and Peterborough branch in North Walsham. Picture: ALEX HURRELL

The Norwich and Peterborough branch in North Walsham. Picture: ALEX HURRELL

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A building society revealed it has no plans to sign up to a government scheme to help customers switch their current accounts - despite proposals to close them.

Norwich and Peterborough Building Society, which is owned by Yorkshire Building Society Group, recently announced it is planning to close 28 branches across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, with the potential loss of 136 jobs.

However, worried customers complained they have been unable to move their current accounts using the seven-day switch service, introduced following a recommendation from the Independent Commission on Banking, because the building society is not signed up to the scheme.

A Norwich & Peterborough Building Society spokesperson said: “We are in discussions with a number of other current account providers who are keen to work closely with us to make the process for customers as simple, quick and easy as possible. To help customers facilitate a quick and easy switch, we plan to publish a list of providers who’ve given us this assurance and keep this updated. This is in addition to other support and guidance in finding an alternative provider which we will give to customers.

“We carried out a detailed assessment of joining the current account switching system at the time it came into operation. Like other smaller current account providers, we concluded that meeting the cost required to update our technology was not an immediate priority for investment of our members’ money; existing providers have had to spend millions of pounds reconfiguring their technology to deal with the seven-day switching process.”

But they added: “We have a good track record in ensuring switches are successfully completed manually using a dedicated team to manage requests. We are planning to increase the size of our switching team should the proposals go ahead.”

The Yorkshire aims to close 20 Yorkshire Building Society branches in May and 28 N&P branches from September this year, with the N&P brand disappearing by April 2018, and will contact customers directly to explain the changes to their accounts.

It said it was no longer “cost effective” to keep the branches open, with only 23% of its customers having used a branch in 2016.

But some customers have voiced concerns that without the seven-day switch guarantee it could take more than a month to switch their current accounts and they could lose out on incentives being offered by other banks.

The spokesperson for the N&P said: “Until a customer closes or transfers their account, all current accounts will continue to operate as normal until the end of August. We have written to customers to explain the overall proposals and, should they go ahead, will we will contact them again with full details relating to their specific circumstances.” But they added: “At this stage our customers don’t need to take any action.”

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