The branch network shrinks further after 267 other closures
The number of bank branches in Britain fell another 5% in the spring after more than 250 were cut as the pandemic accelerated closures, new figures from the city’s watchdog have revealed.
Data from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) shows that 267 branches of banks and building societies were closed permanently between April and June, leaving the overall network smaller by 4.55% at 5,599.
The closures meant that less than two-thirds of the UK population (60.1%) were now within 2 km of a bank branch, up from 61.8% in the first quarter of 2021.
It also saw a drop in the proportion of people within 3 miles of an agency, to 87.5% from 88% in the previous three months.
Lenders such as Virgin Money and HSBC recently closed branches as the Covid crisis accelerated the transition to online banking, with Lloyds Banking Group, Sabadell-owned TSB and the Co-operative Bank also among those that have. closed branches since the start of the pandemic.
The FCA said that with post offices, ATMs and mobile banks, there are 60,227 places offering free cash access across the UK, up from 59,903 quarter after quarter.
But the numbers have been flattered by the number of bank branches and ATMs that have reopened after being temporarily closed during the lockdown in early 2021.
The FCA said that while 95.5% of Britons are within 2 km of a free cash access point, up from 95.4% in the previous quarter, only 77.3% of people living in areas rural areas are within 2 km of free cash access.
Sarah Coles, Personal Finance Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Bank branch closures risk cutting the most vulnerable people off their cash flow.
“Almost two in five of us now live more than 2 km from a bank branch, and God knows how far from the bank where we actually hold our account.
There is a real risk for those who are less mobile and need the help of a human to get their hands on their money.
“And while the vast majority of us can still access cash at no cost, without traveling more than 2 km, there is a real risk for those who are less mobile and need the help of a human. get their money back. “
She added that 2 km may be too far for many vulnerable customers.
“Many of the five million people who depend on cash are older and have mobility issues,” she said.
“If they don’t have access to transport, 2 km might as well be 20 km.
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