Guernsey charities express 'serious concern' over new banking fees

NatWest International says the charges to "non-personal" customers allows it to invest in its digital services. Credit: ITV Channel TV

Guernsey charities have expressed "serious concern" over the introduction of banking fees by NatWest International.

From Saturday 29 May, non-personal accounts will be charged £10 per month to operate current accounts and £2.50 for each non-automated transaction.

The Association of Guernsey Charities (AGC) estimates that at least 120 of its members will be affected, and says a large number have contacted them to express serious concern.

The AGC says the extra charges could take up to £20,000 a year from charities "at a time when most have been severely constrained from raising funds".

Chairman Peter Rose says he has been in contact with senior management at NatWest International to see if they would "reconsider their decision", or "simply waive the charges for registered charities", but it had been rebuffed.

I think that most charities affected will have to look to move their accounts, so as to avoid charges, but moving accounts is a cumbersome and bureaucratic process, taking time that would be better spent on charity missions. This decision by NatWest is unfortunate, rather mean-spirited and the timing could not be any worse.

Peter Rose, Chairman of the Association of Guernsey Charities

Meanwhile NatWest International says the charges to "non-personal" customers allows it to invest in its digital services and "create a sustainable business that will be able to serve generations of business owners to come".

We do not take these decisions lightly, however the cost to provide some manual, branch based transactions is increasing per transaction and is reflected in the increase in charges. We value the role these customers play to both us and to our communities which is why we have had to make changes to our fees and charges, to ensure we are here for them now and in the future.

NatWest International spokesperson

NatWest International adds that digital payments continue to be free for customers.

Guernsey Multiple Myeloma Support Group says it is "extremely disappointed" with the bank and would be looking to move after it felt NatWest was ignoring its commitment to support the less fortunate in the community.

I think that NatWest should be reminded of the challenges charities are facing, having struggled to fund raise in two lock-downs in the last 18 months, specifically when the corporate sector is putting ESG at the top of their priority list for 2021. Charging charities for banking is incongruous to this focus.

Sarah Felmingham, Guernsey Multiple Myeloma Support Group

A representative of the Monday Club says the proposed charges are "disproportionate" to the small size of the charity.

Our general income from member’s subs is only about £15-£20 a week during term time - just enough to cover weekly running costs. We rely on donations to cover other costs such as our annual insurance renewal fees and special events, so the proposed monthly fee will have a significant impact. As an indication of the extent to which they are disproportionate - these fees would become our second largest overhead after insurance.

Monday Club spokesperson, Guernsey