February 24, 2024
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Barclays today announced it is set to close 18 more bank branches in March 2024, as face-to-face banking disappears from the high street. Areas affected include Poole in Dorset, Perth in Scotland and Crouch End in north London.

It comes after Lloyds Banking Group announced last month it was closing a further 45 branches across its network.

The company is closing 22 Halifax branches, 19 Lloyds branches and four Bank of Scotland sites.

The Cumbrian town of Penrith and Diss in south Norfolk will also lose both a Halifax and a Lloyds branch. The Hebrides island of Islay will be left with just one local bank when a Bank of Scotland branch closes.

Most of the closures will take place in March and April next year, with some also taking place in August and November. Thus, the total number of branches closed this year has reached at least 276.

NatWest Group also said it planned to close 19 branches, including the last remaining bank branch in the Peak District. Most of these will be closed early next year.

As banks have moved online in recent years, thousands of branches have disappeared from the high street.

Which consumer group? In total, 5,764 branches have closed their doors since 2015, according to the .

The banking group that has reduced its network the most is NatWest Group, which has closed 1,329 branches, followed by Lloyds Banking Group, which has closed 1,048 sites.

Branch closures disproportionately impact the elderly and vulnerable people who struggle to access online and mobile banking.

Lloyds said four out of five of its customers now regularly use online banking and branch visits have reduced.

It said utilization of these 45 branches has fallen by an average of 53 per cent and 71 per cent over the last five years.

A Lloyds Banking Group spokesperson said: “The way customers choose to bank with us has changed rapidly in recent years, and we now offer a wide range of choices for their everyday banking needs. This includes our mobile app, online and over the phone. Customers can also bank with us through the post office, at the Banking Hub or by speaking to a community banker. All colleagues will be offered other roles within our business.

The announcement comes as Metro Bank begins a review of its seven-day opening hours and plans to eliminate around 850 jobs as part of a cost-cutting plan.

The lender, which was recently forced into a £925 million rescue deal, said it would review the opening hours of its 76 branches, including both days and out of hours. It is in talks with the banking regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, about the impact on customers.

The government and financial regulators have put pressure on banks to ensure free access to cash to customers amid branch closures.

In August ministers announced that banks would be forced to provide free access to customers within three miles of their homes. The Financial Conduct Authority warned banks not to close branches unless “additional cash services” were available.

Analysis from Consumer Group Which? It shows 735 bank branches closed across the UK in 2021, and 662 last year.

The group estimates that after this year’s closures, there will be just over 4,000 bank branches left across the country, of which 5,600 have closed since January 2015.

It claimed that now there are 21 parliamentary constituencies where there is no permanent bank branch, while the other 42 parliamentary constituencies are limited to their last branch.

Last September it was announced that Link, Cash Action Group and banking representatives would launch around 80 shared banking centers across the UK.

These hubs will be run by the post office and will have deposit and cash facilities from multiple banks.

But as branches rapidly disappear, the initiative has been termed “too slow” by? Because till date only seven hubs have been opened.

The group’s Sam Richardson said: “These figures show how the number of bank branches and free-to-use ATMs has fallen in recent years, leaving the most vulnerable people in our society deprived of vital personal services.

“Initiatives like banking hubs and upgraded post offices can help to some extent in bridging the gap left by closed branches, but they need to be implemented more quickly.”

Banks have also promised to fill the void created by branch closures by setting up 67 automated shared deposit services at certain locations across the country. However, none have opened yet.

Since 2015, NatWest has closed more branches than any other operator, closing 1,147 outlets when including its RBS brand. Barclays has eliminated 962 and Lloyds has eliminated 629.

Banks have blamed the closures on a lack of demand amid the rise of internet and mobile banking, but consumer campaigners have said disappearing high street branches are increasingly alienating the elderly in rural areas.

Cat Farrow, chief operating officer of Cash Access UK, said: “We have seven centers up and running and they are already making a big impact on communities by bringing cash and basic banking services back to residents and small businesses.

“More centers have been recommended and we are busy finding locations, negotiating leases and renovating buildings. A number of hubs are now being prepared and are on track to open ahead of the busy Christmas season, including the first hubs in Wales and Northern Ireland.

According to whom, the number of free-to-use ATMs has also declined significantly in recent years? data.

In June 2023, there were 14,396 fewer free-to-use ATMs in the UK than in August 2018, a decrease of more than 27 percent.

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This article is kept updated with the latest information.

Source: uk.finance.yahoo.com

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