NOTIFICATION has been sent to customers of Virgin Money that a number of stores, all located in Scotland or the north of England, are to be closed from January 6. The reason given is that transactions and footfall are down over the past year, and customers can make use of alternative facilities. I should like to make a few observations on this decision.

1. Over the past 19 months there has been a full lockdown, a partial lockdown, the introduction of reduced opening times and staffing, and the requirement for people to isolate.

(a) That footfall and the number of transactions has declined should not surprise even the least intelligent observer. Indeed, the fact that many customers still used the stores is a tribute to their loyalty.

(b) Unless Virgin Money did not follow Covid requirements in the south of England, that area should have experienced a similar decline in activity, yet there are apparently no closures planned there. This raises further questions as to whether other considerations lie behind the current proposals.

READ MORE: Virgin Money to close 12 Scottish branches as use declines in pandemic

2. The advice to customers that they can continue to have accounts with Virgin Money raises two major issues.

(a) Distance and time:

(i) The nearest Virgin Money store may be a considerable distance from the present one (101 miles in at least one case!).

(ii) Unless the customer has access to a car, public transport will have to be used, and in many places this is at best inadequate.

(iii) The requirement to make a long and/or time-consuming journey to visit a branch to deposit cash indicates that Virgin Money has either not done its research, or does not care about the much-vaunted “customer experience”.

(b) Use of the Post Office as a an alternative, as suggested in the closure notice, ignores the fact that for many the Post Office is little more that a counter in a shop, with no facility for privacy, and lacking staff qualified to deal with mortgages, loans, etc. Many have long queues under normal circumstances, with no accommodation to expand to meet an increase in demand. In addition, in some towns the local Post Office is itself under threat of closure.

3. The proposed closures show a callous disregard for Virgin Money’s loyal customers that is tantamount to contempt: loyalty should work in both directions!

4. It would be a valuable lesson, and a warning to others who see their consumers as merely an expendable means of making profit, if all customers affected by the closures took action to show their disgust. To this end, a co-ordinated movement of accounts from Virgin Money to other banks, over the last week in November and the first two weeks in December, might make them realise that the people can fight back.

T J Dowds

YOUR article “Payment for carers to be doubled” (Oct 8) describes the actions of a socially just government, a government in tune with the country’s needs and actions in complete contrast to that of the Westminster Conservative government. A Westminster government that only last week imposed the largest social security cut since the Second World War, taking away £20/week from claimants on Universal Credit. This article clearly exposed the spending priorities of both governments, if evidence was necessary!

Carer’s Allowance is a devolved benefit and on receiving powers over this benefit, the SNP quickly recognised that it was the lowest of all working-age benefits and in 2018 introduced Carer’s Allowance Supplement giving carers £230 in additional benefit.

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Last year the Holyrood government doubled this supplement in recognition of the massive contribution carers make – especially during the pandemic, with additional responsibilities – and this year the supplement has been increased again.

This year’s increases to unpaid carers’ supplement will realise in excess of £650 by the end of the year to carers. Scotland is the only place in the UK to have such a benefit to unpaid carers – unpaid carers who are making a huge contribution towards our extremely stretched social care services.

Prime Minister take note, but more importantly take action and follow the actions of the Holyrood government regarding carers.

Catriona C Clark

SCOTS law is protected as separate since the Treaty of Union, so why do we accept the Supreme Court established within the English system? Another nibble in the power grab process, like allowing insurance companies to treat Scottish customers’ policies under English law?

Either Scots law pertains in Scotland and cedes precedence only to the UN by consent, or we are allowing England – again – to break the Treaty of Union. If the UN wants as many nations as possible with their own legal system to introduce incorporate its Convention on the Rights of the Child, then Scotland, as an ancient, sovereign nation with its own legal system, has the right to do so.

Time to stand up for our separate legal system and seek backing for that stance from the UN. Time to stop kowtowing to every attempt to introduce the English system bit by bit through the back door.

L McGregor