Two major UK banks, Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group, have announced the closure of a combined total of 63 branches. Barclays revealed plans to shut down 10 branches in addition to the 70 closures already announced earlier this year. Lloyds Banking Group, on the other hand, will be closing 21 Lloyds Bank sites, 15 Halifax branches, and 17 Bank of Scotland buildings between September 2023 and May 2024. The closures will affect branches across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
The reduction in physical bank branches is a response to the increasing preference for online banking among customers. However, concerns have been raised about the impact on older and vulnerable individuals who may not have easy access to the internet. Age UK issued a report last month warning that the shift towards digital banking, cashless transactions, and branch closures could leave some people feeling socially isolated.
According to a poll commissioned by the charity, 27% of individuals aged 65 and above manage their accounts through a physical branch or location like a Post Office, rather than online. Additionally, 75% expressed the desire to carry out at least one transaction in a branch. Lloyds reported that more than 20 million customers across its brands regularly use online banking, and footfall in the 53 branches set for closure has decreased by an average of 55% over the past five years.
Lloyds stated that in addition to digital and mobile banking options, they are introducing more community bankers to provide face-to-face support in local communities. Customers can also access banking services through phone banking, the Post Office, or banking hubs. The company assured that all staff members from the branches slated for closure would be offered roles at other branches or within the broader business.
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