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Barclays Scandal: More Consumers Moving Banks In Wake Of Financial Fiascos

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Things you’re more likely to do than change your bank: get divorced, change job and move your home.

So when British consumers, in the wake of the NatWest payments fiasco, Barclays' Libor rate scandal and four banks being exposed for mis-selling interest rates, start leaving their banks, you know they're angry.

Bankers know the public anger is palpable, with the Guido Fawkes blog leaking a report that the British Bankers’ Association have cancelled their summer do, saying "our industry needs to think long and hard about its collective behaviour."

But it’s not just summer parties bankers could be missing out of - there’s also evidence that growing numbers of people are thinking about leaving to take advantage of more "ethical" services.

move your money

Voting with their feet: Move Your Money say more people are leaving the big four banks

The campaign group Move Your Money, an idea imported from the US to promote ethical banking, say they’ve seen a 15-fold increase in visits to their website in the last week - with over 10,000 people already swapping their accounts since the beginning of March.

For Lynne Brooke, a 69-year-old solicitor from London, the Libor scandal was the last straw, on top of difficulties he and his wife have had with customer services at Barclays. Mr Brook is moving accounts on behalf of his daughter, Jemima, who has severe and profound learning disabilities.

"This is the final straw,” he told The Huffington Post UK. “They can't even have any ordinary customer service for people with learning disabilities but they're in the business of feathering their own nest. It's just such a breach of trust, such a betrayal of the community of the whole. It's just treacherous, traitorous, abominable.”

Mr Brooke says he will go to the Cooperative Bank or another mutual, deriding Barclays as “so out of line because when the music stops on this type of thing the people who have to pay are the taxpayers.”

Katherine Perry, a 27-year-old media professional who works in London, decided to move after finding out her bank HSBC had been involved in mis-selling products to small businesses.

“I would feel outraged if my money was in a bank that was actively cheating small businesses.”

Perry said it will take about 10 hours to make the swap, from HSBC to the East London Credit Union and the Co-op, on top of her full-time job and family commitments. It’s worth she says because she’s so “outraged.”

“People are clearly struggling. Then to know banks have knowingly mis-sold interest rate swaps and then know these businesses are failing, that they have continued to mis-sell those products and then also to let those people struggle. And then what to spend it on champagne? I think the problem is not the anger it's that people don't know what to do about it.”

For 22-year-old freelance journalist Alex MacDonald, who has banked with Lloyds for four years, it’s time to move while it’s easy.

“We need to show our distaste for the corruption in the banking system, thinkings like the setting of the Libor rates. It's more fallout since the financial rates. I don't have a lot of money, or any investments or savings. So it's much easier for me to switch.”

Louis Brooke, a spokesperson for Move Your Money said their campaign won’t happen quickly but there are potential tipping points, with Nationwide and Cooperative Bank reporting more enquiries in the past week.

"There's been a real change in the people leaving quotes on our website," Brooke said.

"At the beginning it was ethical consumers, there's been a shift in audiences with people who have much more mainstream concerns about the banking sector. There's been a much wider audience who are concerned with honesty and stability of the banking system.

"We're hopefully going to do an impromptu press stunt on Wednesday to put some pressure on Bob Diamond in front of the Treasury select committee,” he told The Huffington Post UK.

"We're working behind the scenes with a couple of councils and church groups, and at the same time starting to build on the more mainstream audience.”

Robin Taylor, Head of Banking at The Co-operative Bank said they had seen a 25% increase in online applications for a bank account last week: "The Co-operative Bank continues to go from strength to strength and we pride ourselves on banking ethically.

"Last week, we saw a 25% increase in online customer applications for a Co-operative Bank Current Account.

"We are always looking to provide customers with a compelling alternative to the big five banks."

Have you moved your money in the last month? Let us know in the comments

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