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Where have all the banks gone?

How many bank branches have closed since 2015?

Which has reported that over the last 9 years a staggering 6,005 bank branches have closed equating to 60% of the UK’s banking network.

Why is this happening?

If you listen to the banks -they are telling us fewer people are visiting branches due to the increased usage of online and mobile banking.

We would argue however, that there are still plenty of people and small businesses who rely on banks who either don’t want to use digital technology, or indeed are unable to for several reasons. The matter is particularly worrying in rural areas where there is poor broadband and mobile coverage and there are higher populations of elderly people.

This issue is being monitored by Age UK and in their 2024 Digital Exclusion Report they have advised that in the UK-of people aged over 65:-

  • 3.3 million do not use a smartphone;

  • 900,000 do not possess any type of mobile phone;

  • 27% continue to manage their banking at a branch or location; and

  • 31% do not use online banking.

What help is available?

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) finance watchdog, introduced legislation in 2023 to ensure people can continue to withdraw and deposit cash. Those that live in rural areas must be no more than 3 miles from a cash access point-and in urban areas no more than 1 mile.

The Cash Action Group (CAG) announced any community facing closure of a core cash service such as a bank branch or ATM will trigger an independent review by LINK-the UK’s largest cash machine network. Link will have the power to commission services such as a shared banking hub or better Post Office services.

Post Office branches can facilitate the withdrawal and deposit of cash into your accounts and make balance queries for some banks and most banks will allow you to deposit cheques. The service will run until December 2025.

Community banking hubs-provide counter services and are run by Post Office staff. Most major banks have signed up and are able to accept deposits, withdrawals and can pay bills. The hubs also have private spaces where you can speak to your own bank for advice and support on more complex issues. The only snag here is that there are only around 50 of these hubs currently in operation as the roll out has been relatively slow.

Usdaw believes that essential banking services should remain accessible to those who rely on them. It is of paramount importance that government prioritises opening more hubs quickly so the older and more vulnerable in society are not left behind -and excluded.

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