Branch Closures

UK towns have lost 529 bank branches since the start of the pandemic despite the City watchdog urging lenders to hold back on cuts during the Covid crisis, it has emerged.
Since the first national lockdown was imposed on March 23 last year, banks have gone on to close 529 branches, according to Which?.
The closures have come despite the Financial Conduct Authority urging lenders to delay shutting branches where possible, “particularly where this could impact vulnerable customers”.
Banks did pause branch closures and job cuts during the first lockdown last spring but most had resumed those plans by the end of the summer.
Barclays, NatWest, Lloyds, HSBC, Co-op Bank and TSB are among the lenders to have announced cutbacks as the pandemic accelerated the shift to online banking.
Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, said he expected closures to “ramp up” as restrictions eased because the pandemic “put the proverbial foot down” on the shift to online while guidance from the FCA will have stopped some closures from happening last year.
“The case for keeping those branches open is not as strong [now],” he said.
Scotland has faced 90 bank branch cuts since last spring’s lockdown, making it the worst affected region after London.
The battle to preserve remaining branches was high on MPs’ agenda even before the pandemic in the face of concerns that vulnerable customers who do not use online banking were being cut off from their money.
Since 2015, 4,188 branches have closed across the country, with the South East suffering the biggest reduction in branches.
Mr Shaw added that Scotland will be the first part of the UK where half its bank branches have closed with the total set to hit 532 by the end of the year.
It was vital to ensure “people aren’t left behind” as banks shift their focus to online banking, he added. Which? had found last year that banks never reversed a decision to close a branch after consulting with the community.
Derek French, the bank branch campaigner and former NatWest banker, said: “We are on the tip of an iceberg as Covid will further accelerate the increase in closures we are already experiencing, and now it is larger communities in the frame, and adequate substitutes are not in place.”
City minister John Glen MP last week confirmed that a consultation for cash legislation will be launched this summer with the aim of ensuring people can access cash withdrawals “within reasonable travel distances”.
During a summit discussing the future of cash use, Natalie Ceeney, chair of the Community Access to Cash Pilots initiative, also argued that post offices were not necessarily a good replacement for bank branches.
“If the post office is at the back of a cramped convenience store or with queues of people behind you with their eBay parcels, you may not feel comfortable doing a complicated transaction or asking someone to tell you how much money you’ve got your account. So, actually the environment matters,” she said.
Ms Ceeney, who chaired the Access to Cash review, and the Federation of Small Businesses said measures were needed more quickly to stop Britain becoming a cashless society after further delays to legislation.
“We can’t allow the cash infrastructure to just disappear while we wait for legislation,” she said. “The cash infrastructure is at crisis point … the pandemic has made a lot of the current cash infrastructure unviable and yet we’ve got over 5m people in Britain who rely on cash.”
Craig Beaumont of the FSB said legislation was taking too long to appear: "Action must come soon to protect competition and consumer choice, and prevent irreversible damage.”
The biggest banks set up a working group chaired by Ms Ceeney last week as they waited for the legislation. The lenders promised to take steps to ensure cash was available for small businesses and vulnerable groups.
A Treasury spokesman said it was taking action to maintain access to cash. “We’ve already legislated to make it easier for businesses of all sizes to offer cashback without a purchase, and earlier this week we outlined the next stage in delivering on our pledge of legislation to protect access to cash for those who need it.”

From More than 500 bank branches close since pandemic struck  


I don’t think it’s just access to cash. There are numerous times when a bank asks you to “just” pop into branch or won’t allow a mortgage application online (when applying going direct). Are they prepared for this, or are they just cutting branches in hopes that their customers won’t be too inconvenienced to leave?


Barclays require you to go to the branch to update your address. Not exactly helpful when they closed your local branch years ago and the next nearest is 5 hours away, which is also being closed soon.

Yet, you don’t need to go to a branch to update with Barclaycard, and Barclays interconnects your accounts so it makes little sense.

I’m in a weird position where my name and address for my Barclaycard is different to my name and address for Barclays. Purely because I didn’t need to visit a branch to update my address or drop the use of my middle names with Barclaycard. Yet both accounts are tied together and accessed through the same app.


Oh, so they do! I would’ve sworn that I did it online because I haven’t been to a branch in over a year; but they must’ve updated it when my mortgage funds were released

I’m not likely to move in the foreseeable future, but still, it’s a tad annoying as I like to think them as the closest traditional bank to fintech as every now and then they release new (to them) features. Oh, and they also pay me £8 a month to bank with them which beats any interest I could get anywhere


That definitely wasn’t true in 2017 (when I last moved) or in 2014 (the previous house move). According to their website you can change your address online, unless you have (or have had) a mortage. Either way you should be able to change it by phone.


If you have

This I understand

or have had a mortgage with us, you won’t be able to change your address in Online Banking

This I don’t.

Why wouldn’t they let me update my address if they’re no longer my mortgage provider?


Interesting. Tried following those instructions and I just get a prompt that says I’ll need to go to my branch to update my address.

Never had a mortgage with Barclays either.

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They pay me £7pm, though I have to give them £4pm first :man_shrugging: :rofl:


I tell you what, with the exception of Starling for obvious reasons, if either Nationwide or RBS insisted I go into a branch just to change my address, our relationship would end there and I’d CASS away.


With a mortgage it’s £12pm so it’s £8 in after all


Barclays lets me change my address in the app, -it just says I’ll need my debit card to confirm the change. When I tried to do it I didn’t get any message about having to visit a branch.


Ah, perhaps that’s why? I stopped using Barclays properly as my main account for a while back when N26 launched, so they never reissued a replacement debit card since my account had become “dormant”

After N26 closed, I never requested a replacement when I went back to barclays because my setup was spend with the Barclaycard, pay off in full from my current account. I’d already moved address by this point anyway and quickly went on to trying Monzo as my full account, and just sort of wound up sticking with that despite the quirks.

So, without my current address, and no active debit card, any ideas how to solve this? I only recently regained access to the app last week, so I’m still waiting for some app functionality to become active, like the pinsentry stuff.

I’ll try reaching out through chat, though when I first moved to Scotland, the person I spoke to said I’d need to go to a branch to update things.

In app it says you can also use the direct call function of the app

It’s actually another feature I haven’t thought much about but I really like. It pre-dials the correct team and passes you through security so once they pick up the phone, you can just discuss your issue straightaway


You could resort to the really old-fashioned way and send them a letter advising them of your new address.

WHAAAT! Never! :rofl:

Seriously though, writing a letter and buying a stamp is the absolute last resort for me these days.


Depends if you have access to the old address or not. I would ask for a new debit card, if you did, then change the address yourself afterwards.

Otherwise, write them a signed formal letter requesting your address is updated and then get a new card once it is processed.

Even with accounts I hardly use, I always make sure I keep a debit card (even if I have to ask for it) to ensure I don’t end up in situations like this. Next time make sure you do as well!

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Thanks @Seb! Definitely a lesson learned here! Spoke to Barclays this morning and they effectively told me the same thing, in that I have to write to them explaining the situation. Has to be snail mail, They need my signature I think.

Once sorted, they’ll update my name and address and send out a new debit card and PINSentry machine!


Ah a signed letter, the most secure form of communication.


Sounds good, just out of interest did you use the app’s direct call button?

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Yep! One of the neatest features of the Barclays app in all honesty. I’m surprised it’s not something that’s been adopted and used by fintechs.