Banks closing down in hundreds of cities across Britain

Author Alexander Tatiev
Category Columnists, Town
Date April 4 2024
Reading Time 2 min.

Banks closing down in hundreds of cities across Britain

Local economies are slowly dying in towns and villages all over Great Britain. Once bustling with the hum of trade, the central streets now echo with silence, and empty storefronts only continue to multiply. But it’s not just shops and boutiques that are disappearing; financial institutions are also vanishing. It was recently revealed that nearly 400 towns have seen their only banks close. Since the beginning of 2022, 388 branches have shut down in areas where there are no alternative banking options nearby. This fate has befallen branches of Barclays, Natwest, Lloyds, and other major financial companies, leaving residents without essential services.

According to a grim forecast, another 245 banks will close this year alone, despite many areas already lacking branches. The consequences of this are already apparent in places like Leiston, Suffolk, and others, where residents, especially the elderly, face a future without accessible banking services. Now many of them will have to embark on long journeys to carry out financial transactions. The wave of closures is a nationwide crisis! From Stromness in the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland to Dartmouth in Devon, users across the country are encountering the disappearance of the last bank branches. The list of closed banks resembles a roll call of forgotten towns, each with its own story of isolation and neglect.

But why are banks turning away from local communities? The answer seems to lie in the relentless march of digitisation and tightening cost-saving measures. With only 10% of transactions now conducted in person, banks argue that physical branches are becoming outdated relics of a bygone era. To soften the blow, some financial companies promise alternative solutions, such as Barclays’ plan to introduce cashless banking centres. However, critics argue that such measures will be insufficient and are being implemented too late.

The closure of bank branches has affected the interests of people with limited mobility, the elderly, rural residents, and small business owners. Such data is cited in a study conducted by the consumer group Which?. The well-known charity Age UK also raises alarm, emphasizing that the closure of local banks severs vital connections for elderly people who may struggle with digital services or face insurmountable obstacles in traveling to neighbouring branches. The Rural Services Network has warnedof the negative consequences for rural communities, where weak broadband or mobile signal can hinder access to online banking services.

The consequences of this new trend are not just inconvenient; they have economic and social ramifications. Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury Tulip Siddiq condemned the government’s inaction, citing it as a cause of the decline of central streets and the alienation of small businesses. One solution to the problem is the creation of banking hubs. These joint facilities, operated by the postal service in partnership with major banks, provide necessary financial services to the population. However, critics have been proven right here too: there are too few such hubs, and they are being implemented too late. Currently, only 40 similar hubs are operational.

Furthermore, the closure of branches poses yet another problem. Recently, the Co-operative Bank announced the reduction of 400 jobs. As profits decline and costs rise, banks resort to drastic measures, further exacerbating the crisis engulfing British towns and villages. The plight of rural communities serves as a stark reminder of the uneven distribution of progress. While urban centres thrive in the era of digital technology, small towns and villages are left to deal with the consequences of globalisation.

Here is the full list of closing branches.