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Two thirds of bank branches have closed in 30 years

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

Just a third of the UK’s bank branch network remains compared with three decades ago, meaning people have further to go to access store services.

There were 20,583 bank branches in 1988 but today, there are just 7,586, according to research by campaign group Which?.

This means 19% of the population now have to travel more than 3km to their nearest branch while one in 10 have to travel more than 5km.

Those living in rural areas of Scotland have been hardest hit by the closures, but those living in the South West and East of England have also been disproportionately affected, based on the population numbers.

Bank closures have also been made worse by the fact that cashpoints are dwindling following changes to how the LINK network is funded.

The 11,547 Post Office branches have been commended for plugging the gap in banking services, but Which? said half of adults are unaware they’re available as an alternative.

Of those who are unlikely to use a Post Office branch, they were concerned about staff expertise in financial services (28%), long queues (42%) and a lack of privacy to engage in financial affairs (32%). Six in ten (59%) simply prefer to deal directly with their bank.

There are also a number of services which aren’t currently offered by the Post Office, including opening or closing accounts, transferring money between accounts, making a complaint about the bank and requesting a replacement debit card.

Anti-fraud checks, lasting power of attorney or grant of probate services also can’t be completed at the Post Office.

Ceri Stanaway, Which? Money editor, said: “The true scale of bank branch closures in recent decades is staggering – and has left millions of people struggling to access the vital financial services and cash they need.

“For many there is simply no substitute for a dedicated branch and the wide range of services it offers and many customers now face having to travel long distances if they are to avoid financial exclusion.

“We want to see banks properly justifying the reasons for closure and taking into account their customers’ needs before shutting their doors – and their customers out.”