Analysis carried out by the BBC has revealed that around 13 million adults living within the UK are residing in areas where ‘at least’ half of the local bank branches and building societies have closed down.
Since 2010, around 6,000 local branches have shut down, a number which has been described as ‘alarming’ by consumer group Which?
More and more branches have been closing as online banking has become increasingly popular over recent years and UK Finance stated that making the decision to close down a branch was only ever made as a last resort when ‘usage fails.’
Cash machine network, Link revealed figures which showed that 1,400 free to use cash machines had also been closed throughout Great Britain between January and August this year.
During August, the Office for National Statistics reported that over two-thirds of people use the internet now to access banking services, meaning branch use has significantly decreased. However, industry experts have stated they have been left alarmed at the number of branch and building society closures.
Gareth Shaw from Which? said, “There are many people still reliant on traditional banking services who are at risk of being financially excluded by this alarming rate of branch closures. Whilst banks should ensure there are alternative banking facilities in the area, we’re told by consumers that these options simply do not offer the full range of services or convenience that a dedicated branch does.”
A spokesperson for UK Finance said, “Bank branches play an important role in local communities which is why decisions to close them are only ever taken after all other options, like reducing opening hours and staff numbers, have been exhausted.”
Though bank branches are rapidly closing, it has been promised to communities that investments will be made in ATM’s and mobile bank branches.