Virgin Money’s latest tranche of branch closures, announced this morning, comes after swathes have been shut across the banking sector in recent months.
The move to axe nearly a fifth of Virgin Money’s branch network – 31 stores with 112 jobs at risk – comes as rival HSBC also calls time on the last of 82 branches earmarked for closure under a programme that has been running since April.
Lloyds Banking Group, Sabadell-owned TSB and the Co-operative Bank have all shut branches since the start of the pandemic.
Many lenders paused branch closures in the early stages of the pandemic, but have resumed cuts in earnest.
Just three months ago, Lloyds announced another 44 would go across its Lloyds and Halifax brands in what was dubbed by unions at the time as a “bitter blow” to staff and customers.
Unite raised concerns over the Virgin Money announcement and the vulnerable bank customers the branches serve.
“Unite has serious concerns about the implications this branch closure decision has on staff and also the communities they currently serve,” said Debbie Hutchings, Unite industrial officer.
This is a massive undertaking on an already pressurised network.
It also comes as MPs on the Treasury Select Committee last month revealed the raft of bank closures in recent years have left more than 200 “last in town” branches across the UK.
These branches provide vital services to many vulnerable customers who need branches to be able to access their money, according to the committee.
It is worried that if these “last in town” sites shut, access to cash and banking services will be out of reach for many communities.
But lenders argue that far fewer people use bank branches today than they did in the past.
In a letter to the committee, Barclays said that 50 years ago nearly 90 per cent of all transactions were in branch, but today that figure is less than 10 per cent.