RBS to close 158 branches and put 472 jobs on the line, as more and more people shift towards digital banking

 
Hayley Kirton
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RBS blamed the closures on less people using physical bank branches (Source: Getty)

Royal Bank of Scotland is closing 158 branches, putting 472 jobs at risk.

The bank will be closing both RBS and Natwest branches in various locations across the UK. Most of the closures will be Natwest branches.

The taxpayer-backed bank blamed the closure on a shift in the way people do their banking, with more and more customers opting to hop online or use a mobile app than pop into a bricks-and-mortar branch.

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The bank said that, while simple banking transactions carried out in RBS and Natwest branches had fallen by 43 per cent since 2010, online and mobile banking transactions had shot up by 400 per cent.

"As customers change the way they bank with us, we must change the way we serve them," an RBS spokesperson said. "The role of the branch is fast moving to a centre for advice, away from basic transactions. While the branch will still be a core part of our offering to customers, inevitably some branches will have to close."

The majority of the branches will be closing in September or October.

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Although 472 jobs are on the line because of the closures, it is understood the final net job loss figure is likely to be lower at 362.

RBS added it would be introducing new community banker roles and TechXpert roles.

Community bankers, of which 50 will be introduced by the end of the year, would serve local communities, particularly those in rural areas, to ensure those who no longer have easy access to a bank branch can still access banking services.

Meanwhile, TechXperts will help customers develop digital skills to enable them to bank digitally.

Last month, the bank announced it was in the red for the ninth year in a row, reporting a loss of £7bn in its 2016 full-year results. At that time, it also revealed it would be cutting expenses by £750m in 2017 through a focus on "simplification and digital transformation".

This is by no means the first time RBS has taken an axe to its staff numbers in recent years. Between the end of 2015 and end of 2016, the bank dropped 13,700 full-time equivalent employees from its headcount.

RBS' share price is trading up 1.6 per cent at 238.7p at time of writing.

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