TSB becomes latest bank to announce closures as it shuts 70 branches
TSB said it will close more branches as use by customers “declines further” and more people are choosing to bank digitally. It said 150 jobs will be affected by the move, but that all staff will be offered alternative roles at TSB.
It stressed that it will continue to have the seventh largest branch network in the UK, at more than 200.
TSB’s chief customer officer, Robin Bulloch, said: “Closing branches is an incredibly difficult decision to take, but we have to respond to the changes in the way people bank and provide the right mix of services for all our customers now and into the future.
“These changes allow us to maintain an extensive branch presence across the country. They are accompanied by a significant investment programme to upgrade branches to better suit customer needs. And, where it takes longer to get to the nearest branch, we will introduce more ‘pop-up’ services in communities.”
All major banks close branches
TSB is far from the only bank looking to shut branches across the country.
Lenders such as Virgin Money and HSBC have also recently shut branches as the Covid crisis has ramped up the shift towards online banking, with Lloyds Banking Group, Sabadell-owned TSB and the Co-operative Bank aamong those to close branches since the start of the pandemic.
In fact, recent data from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) shows that 267 bank and building society branches were closed permanently between April and June of this year, leaving the overall network 4.5 per cent smaller at 5,599.
The closures meant less than two-thirds of the UK population (60.1 per cent) are now within 2km of a bank branch, down from 61.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2021.
It also saw a drop in the proportion of those within 5km of a branch, down to 87.5 per cent from 88 per cent in the previous three months.
The FCA said that, with post offices, ATMs and mobile banks thrown in, there are 60,227 places offering free access to cash across the UK, which is up from 59,903 quarter on quarter.
But the figures have been flattered by the number of bank branches and ATMs that reopened after being temporarily shut in the lockdown at the start of 2021.
Distance to free cash point
The FCA said that, while 95.5 per cent of Britons are within 2km of a free cash access point, up from 95.4 per cent the previous quarter, only 77.3 per cent of those in rural areas are within 2km of free access to cash.
Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Bank branch closures risk cutting the most vulnerable people off from their cash.”
“Almost two in five of us now live more than 2km from a bank branch, and goodness knows how far from the bank where we actually hold our account.
“And while the vast majority of us can still access cash without a charge, without travelling more than 2km, there’s a real risk to those who are less mobile and need help from a human when getting hold of their money.”
She added that 2km may be too far for many vulnerable customers.
“Many of the five million people who rely on cash are older and have mobility issues,” she said. If they don’t have access to transport, 2km may as well be 20km.”