More than 1,000 high street bank branches closed

More than 1,000 high street bank branches closed

High street banks have closed more than 1,000 branches in the last two years, research from Which? has revealed.

Between January 2015 and January 2017, a total of 1,046 branches were shut, with rural areas among the worst affected.

Using figures Which? requested from the banks in October 2016, and online statistics, the organisation compiled closure data from the last two years.

Article continues after advert

HSBC had cut the most branches in this period, totalling 321 or 27 per cent of their branch network.

This was followed by Lloyds Banking Group which has closed 180 branches, a total of 14 per cent of its network, and RBS Group at 191 branches, 10 per cent of its network.

The regions with the most closures are Wales, Scotland and south-west England, all of which have large rural areas.

Amid concerns over the rate of bank closures, the banks signed an 'Access to Banking Protocol' in May 2015, which set out guidelines aimed at minimising the impact of closures.

One of the alternatives often cited as a place where customers can deposit or withdraw money and check their balance is the Post Office.

Research by Which? found 41 per cent of those in its survey did not know they could access basic banking services via the Post Office.

Which? put its findings to HSBC. The bank stated the amount of footfall in its branches had fallen on average by 40 per cent in the last five years as a result of more customers banking online.

Whilst 56 per cent of us now use online banking according to government figures, that still leaves around 20 million who haven't used it and rely on a branch.

Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive of Which? said: "Access to the services necessary to make everyday banking possible should be simple and straightforward.

"We've seen some good examples of banks acting responsibly and in the interest of local communities when they close branches.

"However banks can and must do a better job of working with their customers to understand their needs and those of a local community, especially when they are making changes to the services they offer or closing branches."