Number of Branches in UK Almost Halved Since 2015, Analysis Finds | Banking
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Almost half of UK bank branches have either been lost or are expected to close since 2015, putting vulnerable customers at risk of ‘rejection’, according to figures compiled by a consumer group.
Analysis carried out by whom? for the PA news agency found that 4,735 branches have been closed or intended to be closed in the past six years. This figure is equal to 48% of the network as it was in January 2015.
Many large banks have cut their branch networks in recent years, saying customers are rejecting traditional over-the-counter service in favor of online banking and through cellphones.
Some have said the Covid pandemic has accelerated this shift to digital banking, and recent months have seen a series of announcements of closures.
In October, Lloyds Banking Group announced it would close 41 Lloyds Bank and seven branches in Halifax, England and Wales between January and April 2022. This was in addition to 100 closures earlier in the year.
Several weeks later, TSB announced the closure of 70 branches, or a quarter of its network, meaning it had cut the number of outlets by more than half in less than two years.
Jenny Ross, which one? Money Editor said, “Wave after wave of bank branch closures in recent years, many people who depend on them for essential banking services – especially the elderly and vulnerable – are at risk of being abandoned.
“The recent proposals put forward to help secure the future of cash hold great promise, but we will be watching closely to see if they prevent other communities from losing access to vital cash and banking services. . “
Although the pandemic has accelerated the shift from cash to contactless payments, figures released earlier this year showed that by 2020 there were still 1.2 million people in the UK relying on coins and tickets for their daily expenses.
The government has said it will legislate to protect the future of cash and introduced no-purchase cashback in stores to allow people to access their money without a bank branch or ATM.
In December, several large banks announced a service-sharing initiative, and plans are to expand a pilot program in which post offices house bank staff and offer over-the-counter services to individuals and businesses.
Natalie Ceeney, president of Cash Action Group, said there were still millions of people for whom the decision to close a bank branch was truly disruptive.
“It’s not just vulnerable people who may have low incomes or have a disability, but small businesses, whose customers pay cash and can no longer deposit their proceeds at the branch that was once across the way. from the main street, ”she said.
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