On Friday 26 March, I was invited by Lloyd's Banking Group to a virtual branch visit. This was a great opportunity to learn more about the bank's work to support local residents and businesses over the past year.
The visit was hosted by Lloyd's South East Ambassador Michelle Blayney and Robert Cooper, Group Public Affairs Manager. I also met James Salter, Senior Bank Manager for Banbury and Karen Wilshaw, Area Director, who oversee personal banking in the constituency. The Group has over 50,000 customers in the constituency and it was really interesting to hear about how they have adapted their working practices as a result of the pandemic. Over the past twelve months, local branch staff have reached out to over 3,500 vulnerable customers, to ensure they are able to access support. As well as wellbeing calls, the Group has also introduced Trusted Person Cards which have enabled the most vulnerable to access shopping and services through a friend or family member.
I was also pleased to meet Jon Pennell, Commercial Area Director for Small and Medium Enterprises. The Group has worked with a number of its 3,000 local businesses to access schemes such as the Bounce Back Loan and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan. Jon's team are continuing to support these companies as repayments start to kick in.
Speaking after the visit, Michelle said: "We were pleased to meet Victoria Prentis MP so she could hear about the work branch staff have been doing to support customers with their banking needs. We are committed to playing our part in helping Britain recover in the months ahead."
I know that the pandemic has caused financial hardship for many, so it is crucial that those who are struggling with their finances are able to access the support they need and get in touch with their bank if they have concerns.