Britons left driving miles to their bank as millions at risk of becoming ‘bankless’ within months

Barclays Bank after closures

Hundreds of bank branches have closed since 2015

PA
Patrick O'Donnell

By Patrick O'Donnell


Published: 24/12/2023

- 06:00

Hundreds of high street bank branches will have closed this year in lieu of online banking services

Britons are being forced to drive for miles to access in-person banking services and millions more people are facing further branch closures.

Some 645 bank branches will have closed by the end of 2023, according to Which?.


The consumer champion reports that banks and building societies have closed 5,791 branches since January 2015 which comes to around 54 each month.

This has resulted in communities being left without sufficient banking services with vulnerable people being left with little support, notably pensioners.

Have you been affected by bank branch closures? If you'd like to share your story, get in touch by emailing money@gbnews.uk.

Woman looking at laptop

Britons are being left 'bankless' due to branch closures

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GB News viewers have voiced their outrage at the wave of bank branch closures sweeping the UK’s high streets. Bill, whose name has been changed, branded the closures an “utter disgrace”.

The GB News reader has been a loyal customer at his bank for more than 60 years, but now has to travel 63 miles to the nearest branch. He said: “I, for one, do not do internet banking nor telephone banking.

“Having been a customer of this bank for 60+ years, the attitude of the top management leaves a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, there is very little option to switch banks, as other banks are also deserting the high streets.”

Bill said older people, on the whole, prefer to do their banking in a branch, face-to-face with a human.

Another GB News reader now drives ten miles to access reduced banking services on set days in the next town after their local HSBC branch closed. They said: “I will never do internet banking so a high street bank is essential. It is disgraceful that the banks reduce choice for the customers!”

Another person told GB News: “As far as I'm concerned, bank closures are a travesty, and part of the ongoing push to remove cash from the economy. The lie that customers prefer to bank online is exposed every time you try to use a bank, and they say: ‘Are you aware you could do this online, Sir’. I always retort, ‘Are you aware that you are talking yourself out of a job’."

Another person who now has a 28-mile round trip to the nearest branch of his bank said he “strongly objects” to any more bank closures.

He told GB News: “I am an older customer and will find it difficult when I stop driving to reach a branch. I feel that banks have a duty to provide banking facilities for the general public!”

A couple living in the countryside faced a long journey to change their PIN this week.

“We live in a rural community and as recent as this week we had to change our PIN numbers on our credit cards, due to a possible scam,” they explained.

“Our nearest bank of any type is twenty odd miles away, and we needed a bank ATM for security reasons, not just the type that hands out cash, so we had to travel to find one.”

Another person told GB News she has a 24-mile round trip to get to her local bank branch.

Recent research from analytics platform SAS found that almost one million customers could be left “bankless” in a matter of months. They suggested the top 10 areas most likely to suffer this fate.

This included:

  1. Ross, Skye and Lochaber, Scotland (18,819 people per branch)
  2. Argyll and Bute, Scotland (8,626 people per branch)
  3. Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, Scotland (800 people per branch)
  4. Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, Scotland (188 people per branch)
  5. Copeland, England (39,000 people per branch)
  6. South Down, England (123,121 people per branch)
  7. North Ayrshire and Arran, Scotland (20,320 people per branch)
  8. Central Devon, England (47,612 people per branch)
  9. Tewkesbury, England (112,255 people per branch)
  10. Gainsborough, England (98,796 people per branch).
Lloyds Bank logo outside bank branchLloyds Bank will close more bank branches in 2024 PA

Ron Denelvo, the chair of the Payment Choice Alliance, said bank customers are being “dictated” to when it comes to money management.

He told GB News: “Obviously there’s a battle going on here. The banks want to remove their branches, take out their ATMS and compel the British public to go cashless but unfortunately, for the banks, the public are resistant to this.

“Alternatives are fine but the banks aren’t giving any alternatives. They’re saying its online banking or nothing. That is not satisfactory. Customers are being dictated to.”

The largest amount of closures from one banking group comes from NatWest Group at 1,330, which includes NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank.

Lloyds Banking Group, which is made up of Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland has closed 1,057 locations.

In terms of individual banks, Barclays has shut down the most high street branches as 1,130 since 2015.

GB News has contacted NatWest Group, Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays asking for comment.

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