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Support For The Petition Of Andrew Bayly On The Withdrawal Of Bank Services

Grey Power is happy to support the petition of Andrew Bayly, the shadow Treasurer, to the Finance and Expenditure Committee on the withdrawal of banking services, Pete Matcham, Grey Power Federation Vice-president said. Grey Power is increasingly concerned at the move by both corporate entities and Government Departments to effectively exclude from access to their services anyone who cannot use digital media.

The deliberate and accelerating closure of bank branches and the withdrawal of cheques are the latest and most pernicious examples of digital exclusion. That these moves, which exclude the most vulnerable members of society, was made on the basis of improving financial performance is unacceptable Pete added.

Whilst the effect of bank closures and the withdrawal of cheques is by no means limited to older people, they form a large proportion of those affected. Grey Power’s research shows that twenty one percent of older people surveyed use their bank branches regularly, and a quarter of these rely wholly on access to their bank branch to conduct their day to day financial transactions.

Even more older people rely on cheques, with 54 percent reporting regular use in a survey Grey Power conducted earlier this year. In the same survey a fifth of all respondents reported an inability to access or problems with using telephone or internet services.

Noting that the major New Zealand Banks had one of the highest returns on equity in the world, and contrasting this with the example of a Grey Power member who recently begged for help with tears streaming down her face, saying that she did not know what to do if she could no longer use cheques, Pete added that this is yet another example of the unacceptable face of capitalism. He noted that the effects of this exclusion went far beyond financial transactions, and directly affected the Government’s aim of enabling older people to ‘Age in place’ and to remain active in their community. Pete urged banks to acknowledge that their responsibility to society extended beyond their shareholders and make protection of the most vulnerable a key performance indicator.

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