Nearly HALF of all bank branches have shut since 2015 and this year has seen a huge acceleration of closures
- Some 4,735 bank branches shut down – or are about to – since 2015
- That is 48% of the network of thousands of branches analysed by Which?
- In this year alone, 736 branches disappeared from the high street
Nearly half of Britain’s bank branches will have shut down by the end of next year as the pace of closures picks up again after a lockdown-induced slowdown in 2020, new figures show.
Some 4,735 branches – or 48 per cent of the network of thousands of branches analysed by consumer group Which? – have already closed their doors, or have been earmarked for closure, since the start of 2015.
In this year alone, 736 bank and building society’s branches disappeared from the high street, while another 221 are set to go in 2022.
Going, going, gone! Nearly 5,000 bank branches will have disappeared by the end of next year
The chart shows the number of branches each bank and building society has closed since 2015
That marks an acceleration from 2020, when 369 branches closed down as banks shelved plans due to the pandemic and also more than the 444 that shut in 2019.
Barclays is the individual bank to have reduced its network the most according to Which?, with 841 branches having closed – or scheduled to – by the end of 2022, according to the research.
NatWest Group, which comprises of NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank, will have closed 1,110 branches by the end of 2022.
Lloyds Banking Group, made up of Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland, has shut down 723 sites, rising to 770 in 2022.
Jenny Ross, Which? money editor, said: ‘Wave after wave of bank branch closures in recent years have left many people who depend on them for essential banking services – particularly the elderly and vulnerable – at risk of being cut adrift.
‘Recent proposals put forward to help secure the future of cash are very promising, but we will be watching closely to see if they are preventing further communities from losing cash access and vital banking services.
‘Voluntary measures cannot provide the certainty that consumers’ need for cash will continue to be met. That’s why they need to be underpinned by long-promised legislation that guarantees consumers can continue to access cash for as long as it is needed.’
In terms of volumes, the South East saw the biggest reduction in branches since 2015
Wentworth and Dearne in Yorkshire became the first constituency to lose all of its branches
It comes as earlier this month, banks and building societies agreed to share more branches after a trial in two towns was hailed as a success.
Five more ‘bank hubs’ will be set up across the UK next year, according to a key report put together by Natalie Ceeney, chair of a group set up by banking lobby group UK Finance to find solutions that will keep cash on the high street.
These hubs will be one-stop branches which customers of all the big banks will be able to use to carry out routine banking transactions. They will also be small business friendly.
Shared branches: Five more ‘bank hubs’ will be set up across the UK next year
The Post Office has also announced that it will install ‘dedicated cash services’ in 30 branches over the next 12 months which could include banking counters and self-service machines.
Ceeney said some people are not able to or cannot afford to participate in the ‘digital economy’.
She said: ‘I completely understand when I hear people tell me that they haven’t set foot in a bank branch in years or no longer use cash. This number is only going to get bigger.
‘However, there are still five million people who rely on cash and the decision to close a bank branch can be really disruptive.
‘That’s not only vulnerable people who may be on low incomes or have a disability, but small businesses, whose customers pay in cash and can no longer deposit their takings at the branch that was once across the high street.’
According to research by Which?, the South East saw the biggest reduction in branches since 2015, with 603 being shuttered and another 30 planned for 2022.
However, both Scotland and the North West have already seen more than half of their branches close down.
This year, Wentworth and Dearne in Yorkshire became the first constituency to lose all of its branches.
It was then joined by four more more: Sheffield Hallam, Bradford South, Warrington North and Erith and Thamesmead.
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