British banks accelerate branch closure programme

British banks accelerate branch closure programme

Britain's major banks closed more than 600 branches across the UK in the last year, according to figures obtained by the BBC.

The data - obtained by BBC Breakfast - came from the big six high street banks: Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), HSBC, Santander, Barclays and the Co-operative.

The closures all took place between April 2015 and April 2016.

Over the last year, RBS closed the most branches - 166 - followed by HSBC with 146.

Just yesterday, Royal Bank of Scotland was reported to be slashing another 200 jobs and a further 20 branches from its retail network, bringing the total number of branches earmarked for closure this year up to 54.

At its annual shareholder meeting this week, Lloyds Banking Group chairman Norman Blackwell was accosted by angry small investors, who accused management of deserting customers.

“We have to sensibly balance the needs of individuals in a local community with the way other people are doing their banking via screens and the online network,” Blackwell told the meeting, echoing the word of RBS chief Ross McEwan the previous week.

"The use of transactions at counters is a bygone day in most cases," McEwan told shareholder. "Unfortunately, that is the harsh reality that we have to live with."

The British Banking Association is at pains to defend the actions of its members, this week announcing an independent review into the protocol on minimising the impact of closures on customers

Anthony Browne, chief executive, BBA, says: "More and more of us are adopting digital services to manage our money while on the move, without having to travel to a branch. Banking is in the midst of a customer-led revolution. It is important, however, that customers still have access to banking services if a local bank branch closes for commercial reasons."

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