orth Ayrshire and Arran MP Patricia Gibson has accused high street banks of “exploiting” the current coronavirus situation.

The SNP MP has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling on the UK Government to take action with HSBC, First Direct and M&S Bank all planning to increase unauthorised overdraft charges to 39.9 per cent, with others due to lift rates to the same figure next month.

However, with mounting pressure from customers and politicians, some banks have scrapped the planned hikes while NatWest, RBS, and Ulster Bank are freezing interest rates on overdrafts at their 19.89 per cent level for three months instead of increasing them to 39.49 per cent.

Ms Gibson said: “The community spirit required to fight this virus has obviously not reached the head offices of our high street banks, so I have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Financial Conduct Authority urging them to act to stop banks from exploiting the current situation.

“At a time of national crisis with millions of people seeing their jobs and livelihoods put at risk and cash flows disrupted, it is shameful that banks were set to increase the cost of borrowing.”

She continued: “Many of my constituents and people up and down the country are seeing their livelihoods threatened as they are unable to work due to the current heath crisis.

“Indeed, debt charities have seen a huge rise in the number of people struggling with debt in the past week alone.

“Additional charges will only exacerbate the hardship being felt by many.

“This is an unprecedented crisis and the Government must take whatever action is necessary to protect jobs and livelihoods and stop profiteering by high street banks.”