Published On: Tue, May 23rd, 2023
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Bank closures in your area MAPPED: Check if your local branch is shutting its doors | Personal Finance | Finance

Communities across the UK will soon have nowhere to go for in-person financial services as cost-cutting measures push banking online.

The relative ease of online banking, the popularity of instant mobile services and the surging costs of operating high street locations have all been cited as a factor.

In many areas, entire towns will now be left without a physical branch – 109 communities in England, 16 in Wales, five in Scotland and one in Northern Ireland will be affected.

This has raised concerns for those less willing or able to transition to online services for all their needs, especially given the ever-growing risk of fraud on the internet.

Check’s interactive map below to see what banks are disappearing from your area.

READ MORE: New poll reveals 95 percent of Britons anxious about shift to online banking

So far this year, Barclays has announced or already overseen the most closures of all, at 122. Between 2017 and 2022 the number of branches it operated in the UK plummeted threefold from 1,309 to 459.

This was followed by HSBC, which closed 114 locations, NatWest (106), Lloyds (62), and Halifax (32).

Barclays has also deprived, or is about to do so, the most communities of their only in-person space for banking services (45), followed by Lloyds (34) and NatWest (24). 

Barclays claims it maintains a physical presence in over 200 locations “where there is no longer enough demand to support a branch” through the Barclays Local network, based in libraries, town halls, mobile vans, and “banking pods”.

A spokesperson said: “As visits to branches continue to fall, we need to adapt to provide the best service for all our customers.”

Charity Age UK has called for more banking hubs – spaces shared by several high-street lenders featuring counter services and visits from community bankers – to be opened in locations where all banks have closed, warning many older or vulnerable people are struggling with online banking.

Their research found that 39 percent of people with a bank account in Britain – over four million people – do not currently manage their money online and could be at risk of financial exclusion.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “We need to face up to the fact that huge numbers of older people, the oldest old, especially, are not banking online. Even older people who do bank online often want the ability to talk to a bank employee in the flesh about some kind of transaction.

“A lack of face-to-face banking will only serve to further exclude the millions of people on a low income who have no or limited access to the internet.”

More than 50 hubs have been announced, but only four have opened so far.

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) highlighted that banks were closing at a much faster pace than hubs were opening. 

He said: “Small businesses want to remain accessible and available to their customers, and that means being able to accept cash. As a result, Indie retailers need access to cash, customers need cash and so we need banks on the high street.”

A spokesperson for Lloyds Banking Group – which owns Halifax as well as Lloyds Bank and several other financial firms – said the spike in demand for online banking meant they had to focus on developing the “services our customers want to use”. 

The group said its branches would “continue to be an option for our customers alongside our telephone services, mobile app and online bank”. 

A NatWest spokesperson said: “We understand and recognise that digital solutions aren’t right for everyone or every situation, and that when we close branches we have to make sure that no one is left behind.

“We take our responsibility seriously to support the people who face challenges in moving online, so we are investing to provide them with support and alternatives that work for them.”

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