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‘Blow to customers’ as RBS to axe more branches

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

A total of 54 Royal Bank of Scotland branches in England and Wales are set to close in January 2019, the lender has confirmed.

The bank closures are expected to result in around 258 roles being made redundant, and comes after majority taxpayer-owned RBS announced 162 branches were earmarked for closure from this summer.

RBS said the decision was taken as it looks to reintegrate Royal Bank of Scotland back into the core RBS bank now that the divestment of the business is no longer taking place.

Branches were due to be divested and launched as a separate ‘challenger bank’, under the brand name, Williams & Glyn.

It also cited the changing nature of how customers bank as a reason behind the closures. Since 2014, branch transactions across RBS in England and Wales are down 30%. During the same period, there has been a 53% increase in the number of customers using mobile banking and mobile transactions have increased by 74%.

The lender, 62% owned by the taxpayer, added that the vast majority of impacted RBS branches in England and Wales are in close proximity to either another RBS or NatWest branch.

‘Difficult decision’

An RBS spokesperson, said: “As we are no longer launching Williams & Glyn as a challenger bank we now have two branch networks operating in close proximity to each other in England and Wales – NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland.

“As a result we have reviewed our overall branch footprint in England and Wales and have made the difficult decision to close 54 Royal Bank of Scotland branches. Customers of Royal Bank of Scotland in England and Wales will be able to use NatWest branches and local post offices for their everyday banking needs.

“We will now focus on investing in our Royal Bank network in England and Wales to make sure customers have a consistent range of products and services wherever they bank, be it Scotland, England or Wales.”

RBS added that “the size and shape of its branch network across NatWest and RBS will be stable until at least 2020”.

‘Another blow to RBS customers’

Gareth Shaw, Which? Money expert, said: “This is another blow to RBS customers who have already endured a spate of branch closures and will bring the total number of closures or planned closures across all banks to more than 700 this year.

“Our analysis has revealed that more than 60 branches a month are shutting their doors, potentially leaving customers struggling to access vital financial services. It’s crucial banks consult with customers to ensure their needs are met before simply shutting their doors.”