/ Money

Banks respond to our calls on branch closures

While responses from banks to our calls on bank branch closures represent a huge step forward, more needs to be done to secure the future of cash.

Earlier this month, our Chief Executive Anabel Hoult wrote to banks and building societies who are members of UK Finance’s Cash Action Group (CAG) asking them to commit to a pause on bank branch closures until alternative ways of accessing cash could be provided to communities impacted. 

In Anabel’s letter, she outlined concerns that any solutions announced and implemented by the Group to protect people’s ability to withdraw and deposit cash would be undermined by decisions taken by individual banks to progress with branch closure programmes. This followed from new analysis that found the rate of branch closures had increased significantly over the past year. 

Shockingly, we found a whopping 298 bank branches closed between June and August – an average of 99 per month, which is far above the 52 closures that have taken place per month in the previous six years, representing a 90% rise. Overall, 736 bank branches shut their doors this year, with another 220 already set to close in 2022. Since January 2015, banks and building societies have closed or scheduled the closure of 4,734 branches.

Win! How banks responded

We’ve now heard back from all the banks we wrote to, including Natalie Ceeney, Chair of the CAG, who responded to us on behalf of the Group. 

In her response, she confirmed the proposals agreed by members, announced last Wednesday, would be delivered to communities immediately and ahead of upcoming branch closures, and that in communities where bank branch closures have taken place over the last year, impact assessments have already been carried out by the Group, and solutions to enable access to cash delivered. 

These proposals will see LINK (the UK’s main ATM operator) tasked with conducting an independent review of every proposed bank branch and ATM closure, with the power to fill any gaps in cash provision to meet the community’s cash needs, by deploying a range of shared services funded by members such as ATMs, shared banking hubs, and enhanced Post Office services. Communities will also be able to request a review of their community’s cash needs by summer 2022.

Find out if your area will be receiving support here

Which? also wrote to banks that are not members of the CAG, asking them to provide detail on their upcoming branch closure programmes. The majority have since confirmed they will not be closing any further bank branches in 2022.

Find out what your bank said here.

Is this enough?

This reassurance from members of the CAG, coupled with the proposals announced by the Group last week, represents a huge step forward in the fight to protect cash.

However, while we’re hopeful that the services delivered by the Group will provide tangible support to communities at risk of losing access to cash, it is clearly important that the body is held to account for its commitments.

We feel strongly that the CAG solutions must provide sufficient access to cash when a bank branch or ATM closes, and the Impact Assessments undertaken ahead of closures must assess the full range of needs in a given area, giving everyone the opportunity to feedback, including vulnerable residents and those most likely to depend on cash. 

We intend to keep a close eye on how the CAG’s proposals work in practice, to make sure they deliver for consumers on the ground. But we also want your help, by telling us how the CAG is delivering for you in your areas, if you are one of the communities affected, or if you’re struggling to access cash, but haven’t received any support.

Legislation is urgently needed

While efforts from industry to support those of their customers who rely on cash are positive, and necessary – these voluntary initiatives do not negate the need for government action. Not least given that the Group does not represent the whole of the industry and firms outside of the group may continue to make decisions that could detrimentally impact local access to cash without any proposed alternative provisions to be put in place. 

Legislation promised by the Chancellor in March 2020 is still urgently needed, to give the proposals announced by the CAG the necessary level of regulatory oversight and to secure the long-term future of cash for those who depend on it – and we will be continuing to fight for this legislation in the New Year. 

Let us know in the comments if you’re worried your local community is at risk of losing access to cash?

Comments

We have had several branch closures in our town including Barclays. Barclays have an arrangement with the Post Office to deposit cash and Cheques. We can draw cast against our Debit card or use an ATM. We have a number of personal and business accounts and can honestly say that we don’t have any problems with this arrangement. It might be more of a problem for certain locations.

I am a customer with the Royal Bank of Scotland in Southport Merseyside. About 4/5 years ago they closed all local branches in this area so if I needed to go into the bank I had to travel approximately 5 miles, now I have been informed that the last branch which is in Southport will close in March. Of course I have been informed I can use the Nat West Bank but I think it is appalling. I’m a pensioner aged 77 years old and I think banks are not doing the job they should be doing, in short looking after people of all ages. I only wish the Post office had banking facilities but although you can do some things there it is not always the things you want to do. These banks should be ashamed of themselves, they were quick enough to take our money and use it to make profits for themselves but don’t want to look after their customers when they are getting old.

michael stephenson says:
23 December 2021

I could not agree more.Banks are only interested in profits in order to reward the likes of Fred the shred.I have banked with hsbc formerley Midland for 57years.My local branch in Bramhall closed in August and within weeks so did Barclays and Santander.I was directed to Stockport and found this branch closed for refurbishment.I revisited at a later date to find all the Tellers gone and various do it yourself things around the place.I visited the Halifax to find it contained several tellers and was assured they would be retained for the next 8/10 years.I shall be moving my account to them in January.

Peter Roberts says:
23 December 2021

Lloyds closed 2 branches close to me now we have 1 small one which does not seem to cope. Hull West area

Rosie says:
23 December 2021

Sadly it is too late for my local branch of HSBC Thetford, they shut last year & it is a real incovenience!

Amongst our various HSBC accounts is a Premier Saver. It has no debit card, only a deposit and withdrawal slip book. We found our normal counter, teller service had been ceased, in favour of an Amusement Arcade presentation of machines. The floor, clipboard walker suggested we transfer money electronically in to the current account, then make a withdrawal using that debit card from a machine ( the only option being £10 or larger notes). He explained that counter tellers were expensive and not commercially advantageous. That said there was a counter service at Fakenham (18 miles away), Dereham (35 miles away) and Norwich (48 miles away). The Listening Bank appeared to have gone terminally deaf – that was until I recalled that HSBC is The Honkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. The western veneer has worn through to the mainland Chinese underpinnings. I stand to be corrected, but HSBC is the only Bank which operates a ‘loyalty penalty’ for premium customers – put your money in another organisation’s similar account, instead of HSBC and we will reduce the interest rate on your account. We have been customers ever since the Midland Bank days. We recently discovered our account had been moved yet again, but only from receiving a new cheque book – HSBC has not seen fit to tell us. We still use a cheque book and cash – we would move our accounts, but for the little choice of alternatives.

I am with HSBC previously known years ago as Midland Bank. They wanted me to do internet banking. It required using a tiny plastic (half the size of a debit/credit card) with the account. I had hard time doing it. Went into the bank when they had counter services. Gave back the KEY. I managed to discuss I can do everything I need to well almost by using their telephone nbr . press keys on the telephone. Had them set up eg payment account for credit card etc. which means I ‘say’ I would like to pay a credit card, the voice asks have I paid before I say yes then it asks for the last 4 nbrs I wish the payment to come out of and then asks for the last 4 nbrs of the account I wish to pay. then asks me to put in the amount I wish to pay… all using the key paid on my landline cordless phone. I can ring same nbr to get current balance on the account do this before paying someone and. After paying the said credit card I ask what my balance will be. Voice asks questions like what do you wish to do know . I say check my transactions into my account, or check transactions out of my account eg debits and credits. The nbr I use is 0345 740 4404. Presume it will be the same for you. First question it asks is What is your sort code, then What is your account nbr. Worth a try you would need to speak to a human first to set it up and have ready a bill you would like to pay eg the name of the account sort code and account nbr. When you come to pay it again the system will ask you for the last 4 nbrs you wish to pay from (eg your current account last 4 nbrs) and then the last 4 nbrs of the account you have paid before (via the human). Worth bothering with. It shows on your monthly paper bank statement. Hope this might help. Good luck 23.12.21 Fay

Robert says:
23 December 2021

It’s appalling how the banks have closed down. We used to have a Barclays, Natwest, and a TSB here in Ramsey. The nearest of these three is 14 miles away and you need a car to get to them which costs time, fuel, and car parking charges. So if you don’t drive, you can only get one bus there and back which costs just short of £15. It’s a total disregard for elderly customers who live on a State pension. If you need cash, you have to get in a long queue at the local Post Office which can take a long time and when you elderly it becomes difficult to stand and wait.

Marian G. says:
28 December 2021

Robert: I agree: nobody of elderly age should have to wait in a long queue – anywhere! or for anything. You say you have to wait in a queue at the Post Office for cash. But don’t you have an ATM near you ? (where you wouldn’t have to queue). I’m also intrigued to know why you have to go – physically – to a bank. (or are you not referring to yourself). I’m of ‘elderly age’ & I never need to go to a bank. Thank goodness.

Julian Leggett says:
23 December 2021

We have lost all our local branches here in West Swindon and now rely on a small number of ATMs which frequently run out of money. When the banks shut we were told we would be able to use our local Post Office to do all our money movement. Guess what ??? Our PO shuts next month and we have no news so far of a replacement for is in the local vicinity. Banks are only interested now in what makes them profits and us”little folk” don’t do that so we are cut adrift and left to fend as best we can.

David says:
23 December 2021

I have banked with Yorkshire Bank for many years.First there was a merger with Clydesdale then my local branch in Stalybridge closed along with many other banks in the town.I was transferred to Ashton.Last year they were taken over by Virgin Money.Other Virgin branded businesses,such as Virgin Media have very poor customer services (ask the comminity online.No I dont want to go round in circles doing that.I want to speak to a representative of the company when I have a problem with the service. I have found this to be something of a pattern.Nobody cares about the customer.If I went into YB there was always someone helpful who would look into any problems,not that it happened often.
This year Virgin media announced they are closing the branchi was transferred to.Well you can go to Oldham.Nightmare to get to ,traffic system is appalling- i’m being inconvenienced for the sake of profits.I thought of transferring to Co-op but they too have closed.Similar tale in nearby Denton – only one bank remains,for how long?
Everyone wants you to do online banking.I feel there is a greater risk of scams and I would want someone to show me how to set it up.I dont have my life on my mobile phone unlike the younger generation.I am in my Seventies,worked beyond pension age and feel I am being treated like it doesn’t matter if i’m left behind.Please don’t ignore the feelings of my generation.Don’t abandon us.

We live in Scotland and our nearest banks are at least 5-6 miles away. Same for cornershops and Post Offices. We changed to Nationwide as it has branches nearby (12 and 8 miles) and it’s a mutual, so hoping to ride out the next banking crisis like the last one. People have been so good to mum too who has dementia. Most people have to drive because the buses are unreliable. It does feel as if we are being abandoned!

Marian G. says:
28 December 2021

David: I’m in the same age bracket as you. Like you, I worked beyond pension age. Also, like you, I don’t do, and will not do, online banking. There is most certainly a greater risk of scams & being hacked into. I don’t even have a mobile phone! However, I’m intrigued to know why you need to – physically – visit a bank branch. Do you really need to? I’d be interested to know why. I personally don’t need to go into a bank anywhere – but maybe some people do.

Marian — Banks provide a range of services, including certain savings and investment products, which require personal attendance at a branch to open, close, or withdraw from the account. They also handle share purchases and disposals, executor services, currency transactions, deposit boxes, and international business. While these additional services might be in decline nowadays, for those who have such an arrangement a convenient branch is a necessity.

Ideally, people will rationalise their banking requirements as they advance in age and one way in which to ease the process is to give a trusted relative or friend a lasting power of attorney [LPA] or set up a special arrangement with their bank. An LPA for property and financial affairs can be used as soon as it’s registered, with the donor’s permission, but it then supersedes the donor’s authority to act independently.

Marian G. says:
29 December 2021

Hello, John. Opening, closing & withdrawing from account/s? I’ve done all of those over the years & have never gone into a branch to do so. I’ve done it in writing. I write a letter to the bank, with full instructions. I do appreciate nowadays that most people have no idea as to how to write a letter, let alone string a sentence together, but if one does, there’s no need, surely, to visit a branch. & let’s not mention the calibre of staff you will meet in a bank branch. As someone said .. they employ the unemployable. ‘Share purchases & disposals, executor services, international business’ ??! … would you honestly trust the average bank branch clerk to deal with these transactions?! I certainly wouldn’t & I have a sneaking suspicion neither would you (but could be wrong)! LPAs / EPAs … yes, I have one in place. As for ‘trusted relatives or (trusted) friends’ … do they exist?! Meantime, I, for one, won’t be visiting a bank – head office or branch. But it was interesting to read your comments. Best regards.

Marian — I don’t share your cynicism of either the average customer or the calibre of bank staff, and I certainly have relatives and friends who I can trust. I have no grounds for the lack of confidence you refer to in banks dealing with personal matters and have met nothing but professionalism and courtesy at all the major banks. If you have not been into a bank in recent years maybe you are not in a strong position to comment on the competence of bank staff.

As you say, it is possible to deal with most account business by mail but I have on many occasions had to lodge documents with a bank or provide investment certificates in order to close funds. These are usually irreplaceable documents that I prefer to hand over in person and obtain a receipt for. I suspect I am not unusual in that respect and feel this is why the withdrawal of branches has caused so much upset and resentment. For things I have dealt with on behalf of a voluntary organisation I have from time to time had to present evidence of identification and submit authorised documents; in the interests of the members I would not risk those papers going astray so a visit to the organisation’s bank has been a necessity.

While I accept that there is not the need for the multitude of bank branches that formerly were a feature of most towns, suburbs and larger villages, the wholesale retreat from the larger local shopping parades and high streets in towns and cities has been too much, too fast, with no plan, no coordination, not much rationale, and no consultation with customers. If that is deemed to be satisfactory then things have gone badly wrong in the world of banking.

Sadly, because the banks usually provided substantial, prestigious and dignified premises, the remnants of their existence are on show in most towns which rather rubs salt into the wounds they have inflicted on local communities.

Marian G. says:
30 December 2021

Hello, John. You’re right … I’ve been inside a bank probably about three times in the last 40 years – futile experiences. Talking to bank clerks then was utterly useless, & I doubt things have improved. Come on, John, these are people who are lucky to have an O Level between them.
Lodging irreplaceable documents – any I’ve lodged I’ve sent by Signed For/ Registered Royal Mail (having taken copies beforehand). And I would still do so. They won’t go astray, John. There aren’t many institutions in this country in which I still have faith – but one is the Royal Mail. But, in reality, I suspect that most people on this ‘blog’ ‘thread’ (whatever it’s called) are not complaining because they no longer have a bank in which to lodge ‘…irreplaceable documents’! I’m still bemused as to why they think they need to visit a bank at all. As you say, most account transactions can be done by other means – online, by telephone (god forbid), by Royal Mail. The vast majority do not need to drive 20 miles (or whatever) to their nearest bank branch! And soon it’s likely to be 50 miles ……
But the banks’ branch premises, as you rightly say, were prestigious & dignified. Just the ticket for repurposing into …. Chi chi bars, brasseries, restaurants etc. One day, when we point out a smart restaurant to our grandchildren & tell them it was once a bank .. they’ll ask us … ‘what’s a bank’ ?! Best rgds.

Marian — Given your comments about people who wish to use banks, and your obvious ability to get along without them, are you happy for all the local branches to disappear in the haphazard fashion that is occurring? I don’t think it is fair to criticise other people who, for their own perfectly valid reasons, wish to continue using the bank that they have probably been with for a long time.

I repeat this from the Intro to this Conversation —
Shockingly . . . 298 bank branches closed between June and August [2021] – an average of 99 per month, which is far above the 52 closures that have taken place per month in the previous six years, representing a 90% rise. Overall, 736 bank branches shut their doors this year, with another 220 already set to close in 2022. Since January 2015, banks and building societies have closed or scheduled the closure of 4,734 branches“.

That is why Which? has called for a pause to bank closures.

A further important point is that, despite the continued creation of new communities with thousands of new properties on greenfield sites, so far as I can see none of the banks are establishing new branches to serve the inhabitants and the provision of cash has become the preserve of small shops and petrol stations.

Marian – I am not impressed by your comments about bank staff and have I had no cause for complaint when I have needed help. As John has explained, Which? has recognised the loss of bank branches and ATMs and is trying to help those who want these services. It’s worth recognising that people differ in their preferences and needs.

John mentioned that, since 2015, 4734 bank and building society branches have been closed. it is worth pointing out that since then around 11500 post offices started offering the basic banking services most people, and small businesses, need in an agreement with most of the banks, so a large net gain in premises and generally with better access times.

I hope the banks’ support for combined banking hubs will be successful and bring more facilities within easier reach of those who need them. The trials look very encouraging.

Marian G. says:
30 December 2021

Hello, John Ward & ‘Wavechage’. My aim is not to criticise others (& I havn’t). I’m just fascinated as to why people feel the need to go into a bank when, a pound to a penny, a large number of them don’t have to. I have a personal (Current) account and a personal (Savings) account with the same bank – for what reason would I need to go to a branch? I have a Debit Card, a cheque book, a paying-in book, I don’t bank online & NEVER phone the bank (I used to but, since they sacked staff or reduced their numbers during the pandemic, their phones are no longer answered.) In fact, I’m the most technically backward person on the planet, yet I carry on in life without the need to visit a bank. Am I missing out on something here?! It’s worth noting, Incidentally, that on this forum I asked two people (nicely) why they felt they needed to drive miles to a bank. They could well have a valid reason .. curiously, neither responded. Personally, I feel WHICH is barking up the wrong tree – it should be pushing for combined banking hubs, as well as concentrating on a campaign to save ATMs, rather than branches. We all know that the agenda of the banks, evil as they are, is to remove cash altogether from society, so the prognosis for ATMs would seem to be poor – & without them, those of us who like to use cash will be scuppered. To ‘Wavechange’: people DO differ in their preferences & needs, but is that a reason to keep open branches for people who don’t really need to use them? In any event, branches in future, as reported on this forum, will consist of a row of machines & no counter staff. I doubt people will continue to drive 20 miles for that.

Hi Marian – Sorry if I was a bit rude but you were rather rude about bank staff. Like John I have been treated with courtesy.

I have used online banking for years, though now I far prefer mobile banking which is easier and possibly more secure. I now very rarely use cash, though carry it as a backup, but have to deal with cash donations on behalf of a charity. Rather than waiting for monthly credit card statements I see each transaction on my phone at the time and can check the balance within seconds. I occasionally visit a branch of my bank, about three miles away. That’s for help that I could not obtain from a Post Office. They were very helpful when I was buying a house in 2016.

Banks provide an essential service – like utility companies. I have posted numerous comments about shared bank branches because I used to use one in the 1980s, which worked well. In 2021, we need shared branches or hubs to offer more than what a Post Office can offer. Closure of bank branches has caused great problems for people who live in rural areas and small businesses.

With respect to Malcolm’s comment above, there is more to banking requirements than access to cash. It is indeed very good that there are now thousands of post office counters that provide cash against a bank card, but as Wavechange said, there are reasons why people need to make a visit to a bank branch. I gave some examples previously.

While most post offices are suitable premises for obtaining cash many are not liked by users because of their physical nature and lack of privacy. They do not provide the range of other services that banks do and I was focusing on this aspect of the banks’ activities as justifying the continuation of bank branches rather than their uncontrolled and disruptive closure.

I agree that cash is now catered for but I have suggested in a previous comment that there should be at least one bank branch in every place with a population of 5,000. I fully support shared facilities but, generally, the banks have declined to cooperate with each other to provide such arrangements.

Now that a very high percentage of employees has their wages paid monthly into a bank account the banks are taking advantage of that situation to remove banking facilities from easy access since they know it will lead to little loss of custom. It is impractical and unsafe to keep large amounts of cash other than in a current account so customers are virtually obliged to maintain an account with a bank that increasingly they cannot conveniently do business with.

John, I was quite careful to say that post offices offer basic banking services (on behalf of most banks), more than just cash withdrawals. But I also supported Banking Hubs as a successful way to provide other services.

As we will be most unlikely to turn the clock back and see a resurgence of individual branches we need to look at the best ways forward. The initiatives taken look very encouraging.

Have you used any banking hubs, Malcolm?

At least when I write about the hassles of accessing cash in the highlands of Scotland I have personal experience and have discussed the challenges with people who live there.

The CACP report explains the trials and their success. Hopefully they will be rolled out across the country, maybe as independent units and within other premises like post offices. They are an innovation as part of a number of trialled initiatives.

I used one at University, but currently live within reasonable distance of a branch of my building society. I have hardly needed to use it for years but like to occasionally say “hello” by withdrawing cash in person rather than from the ATM outside.

If the discussion is about access to cash, then many people throughout the UK will not have a “convenient” cash dispenser on their doorstep, let alone Scotland (who have more ATMs per head of population than in the rest of the UK). I hope the lack of access to cash in parts of Scotland will be addressed when cash without purchase is rolled out throughout the UK. I also hope, as I have said before, that this initiative will reach many more people than have ever lived near an ATM or bank branch.

As I wrote before, we are within sight of a reasonable solution to the need for basic cash services in local communities, although in my opinion post office counters do not make satisfactory provision for the levels of demand and customer requirements prevailing for the basic post office services before the banking load is added.

Since the Post Office closed most of the Crown post offices, which were well-suited to their wide range of functions, the average customer has to join a long queue in inadequate premises. I am not sure what other, non-basic, banking services post office counters supply apart from paying-in and withdrawing cash against a bank card.

Most of the post office counters in rural areas that I am familiar with are tiny, have space for only one clerk, and can deal with only one person at a time, and the same is usually true of sub-post offices in urban areas.

In large towns and city centres, as in Norwich, post offices have been rationalised so that there is only one left within a radius of one mile from the city centre. In Norwich it has been relocated in a fairly make-shift way to the back of a W H Smith shop which is no doubt very good for W H Smith but not particularly convenient for people wanting post office and basic banking services. The ATM on the exterior is out of action as much as it is in service and is also not in a very pleasant or secure position for cash transactions [withdrawals only]; two banks and two building societies in the vicinity have also closed and removed their ATM’s which puts more pressure on the Post Office and Nationwide BS ones on opposite sides of the street.

I feel that notwithstanding the rational and technically adequate provision of basic banking services, predominantly via ATM’s, a highly civilised and advanced society such as in the UK deserves a higher standard of public service than is now emerging. Running down the convenient location of public service outlets has inevitably reduced customer satisfaction, lowered public expectations, and provided the excuse for further bank closures.

We have an ageing population, a planned reduction in personal transport use, and decimated town centres. We have to have a bank account but cannot have a bank. This is just not good enough.

In reply to Malcolm’s comment – With only eight sites in the Community Access to Cash Pilots and not one in the highlands of Scotland, perhaps it is premature to celebrate their success. I support the efforts of Which? to prevent further closures of bank branches until satisfactory alternatives are in place.

Banks are needed to provide a public service and haphazard closure of branches and removal of ATMs cannot be allowed to continue.

I very much support John’s comments above. We need proper planning of provision of banking services.

These were, of course, “pilot” schemes to test proposals. I believe two sites were in Scotland. The CACP report describes the outcomes and proposals for the furure.

They were in Cambuslang and Denny, not anywhere near the highlands of Scotland.

Would you support the call of Which? to stop branch closures? Until we have adequate alternatives in place, I certainly do.

This morning I visited a local farm shop to buy vegetables and they were only able to serve me if I had cash as the card machine was not working. I was thankful I had the cash to pay, otherwise it would have been a wasted journey.

I explained I was a member of Which? and that we were in the process of winning a long battle to keep the ATM’s operative and the cash flowing. The look of disbelief on the face of the cashier was one of ………..well incredulity!

There seems to be never a day when there is not a technical issue or system failure or communication outage affecting payment transactions and last night it was Nationwide’s turn [again]. The day before, Santander made duplicate payments [running into the £millions] to customers of other banks which it is trying to recover. Cash is the ultimate safety net for when things go wrong so carrying a useful amount is very sensible.

Absolutely. As Beryl has found out, small businesses may only have a single card reader. I have just checked and I have £60 in my phone case.

I am surprised that I’ve only twice had a problem with payment. One was earlier this year when the hairdresser announced that the card machine was not working and I had to pay in cash. The other time was in 1985 in Windsor when the lights went out when I went into a pub and I was given four pints free of charge, though I did lend the staff my torch to find the candles. 🍺🍺🍺🍺 That seemed fair exchange and it was offered, not asked for.

Marian G. says:
31 December 2021

Hello ‘Wavechange’. No problem – you weren’t rude at all. As you’ve seen from my posts, I’m sceptical when people insist that they need to visit their bank branch: I’m trying to understand why! One thing you’ve said interests me. You say that occasionally you visit your bank branch (& I quote) ‘.. for help that I could not obtain from a Post Office’. I’m not for one minute trying to intrude into your banking life, but what help is it that you can get from a bank branch which you cannot get from a Post Office? I’d be most interested to know. Marian G.

When I was an executer I had a lot to do,
To visit banks was one main thing, something I would not rue.
And banks still need a meeting if you have some docs to show.
They don’t accept scanned images, I really didn’t know.

I don’t have a lot of success with Post Offices, Marian. The shop in our village had a busy two person counter but that became a delicatessen and the ‘Post Office’ doubled up with one of the grocery tills. If you wanted to post a parcel or buy stamps you had to wait for others to pay for their bread and milk. Then the PO closed and was eventually reopened.

I periodically need a bank statement from my bank because printing an online document is not acceptable for some purposes. I put cheques and paying-in slips in an envelope and post them in local branches of my bank when I’m passing. Both have ATMs but neither accepts deposits. When I want to make a large payment I visit my bank. When I found some old travellers’ cheques last year I popped into the bank. I’m involved with charities and can bank donations without the need for a pre-printed paying-in slip. Post Offices require printed slips.

I believe that banks should be there to serve the needs of their customers and if I experience a problem I would head to my local branch for help.

I think it’s not so much what post office counters cannot do as what little basic banking they can do.

So far as I understand it, all they can do is handle in-payments to accounts [giro services] and withdrawals from the customer’s account. They can also exchange coins for notes [and vice versa] and bigger post offices can make limited currency exchanges over the counter or order other currency for subsequent collection.

This is an example of the basic bank services available at the post office. https://www.postoffice.co.uk/natwest
This discussion seems to vacillate between access to cash and banking services. I have used two local post offices on a couple of occasions, for convenience, to withdraw cash with no problems.

It might be useful, in discussion, to separate simple access to cash from the other services we require of banking. Cash can be accessed in a number of ways at different outlets, with cash without payment extending those to many more people. Access to banking services, other than cash and paying in, is a separate topic and we do need to address that in a different way. It is unlikely we will turn the clock back on individual and widespread bank branches and, while keeping those that exist open until alternative arrangements are in place, it is inevitable that little-used ones will eventually close. So BankHubs, as trialled in the pilots, seem the future, both for personal and business customers. I’ll support that initiative as it seems the sensible and cost effective way forward. It would be useful to be kept up-to-date with how these will be rolled out and where by Which?.

Thanks, Malcolm. It demonstrates that the “basic banking services” at post office counters are really quite limited.

I agree it would be useful to separate the access to cash issue — which is being properly addressed at last — and the availability of the wider range of banking services. However, it does seem that some contributors question whether anyone needs to go to a bank at all; this is not helpful to Which?’s efforts and it has been necessary to respond to such suggestions.

Marian G. says:
2 January 2022

To Wavechange: Thank you for answering my question on why you use your bank branch. I appreciate it.

• The Post Office: Everyday Banking (the snazzy name for its Personal & Business Banking services) has arrangements with 26 banks, & caters for: (1) Paying in cash and cheques, (2) withdrawing money and (3) checking one’s balance. I pay in the odd cheque via the Post Ofc (but I could just as easily post it to my bank). One thing I do get at a Post Ofc is foreign currency – so, even for this, a bank is not needed.

• You say you periodically need a bank statement. So do I. It’s posted to me every month – from the bank! As it would be from yours. You don’t need to visit a branch to get one.

• You say you occasionally pay in cheques: You can do that at the Post Ofc. Or you yourself can post them to your bank. Again, no need to visit a bank. But to pay in cheques anywhere, you need a paying-in slip – a book of which can be ordered from your bank.

• ‘Large payments’: presumably you’re referring to bank transfers. You visit your bank to do this?!! WHY? I make large payments quite often, the last one being to HMRC, which I paid online through the HMRC website. But, equally, I could have paid it by cheque. I could also have telephoned my bank to do it (& always did for bank transfers, up until the time the bank stopped answering its phones! I will not queue). You say you use mobile banking – I’m sure you’re not saying that you’re unable to effect a bank transfer by this method. So, again, absolutely no need to visit a bank.

• Travellers Cheques !! – The old dinosaurs. Yes, you’d probably have to go to a bank to cash them – but, I’m sorry, to cash travellers cheques is not a good enough reason to keep open a bank branch!

• The charitable donations … you say Post Offices require ‘printed slips’. So do banks! Are you saying that you hand over money/cheques at a bank counter without an accompanying paying-in slip? Surely not.

Basic banking is all that most people need & none of the reasons you have quoted convince me at all of the necessity to keep open bank branches (or the vast majority of them). If I can do without them, & I’m antiquated, I’m sure most people can. In the main, they’re not needed. Best regards.

Marian G. says:
2 January 2022

To John Ward: We’re talking here about the need to keep bank branches open – about which as you know I’m sceptical. Basic banking is all that the vast majority of people need. The Post Office (Everyday Banking) has arrangements with 26 banks (for Personal banking) & caters for: (1) Paying in cash and cheques, (2) withdrawing money and (3) checking one’s balance. (See my post to Wavechange on this). This would cover most people’s banking requirements. As for exchanging coins! Hurrah for the Post Office. One place, at least, where you can exchange coins for notes, probably the only place. Because don’t think you’ll be able to do that at a bank …… No chance.

Thank you, Marian — If people were complaining about having to visit a bank to do these things I could understand your comments, but people are actually pleading to keep bank branches going — not just for the basic teller services but for the many other things that banks can do and which I have listed elsewhere here.

People want to go to banks, they like doing their business over the counter or in private with a representative, they believe they ‘belong’ with their bank and feel let down when their branches are closed and they have to go somewhere else or change banks. To me this all seems perfectly understandable and I don’t see the point of suggesting that there is no need for customers to use their banks, or actually making the case for reducing the number of bank branches to an even lower number.

You have elected not to use your bank for banking services, which is your right, but suggesting that people who have chosen to use a bank branch and want to continue to do so could do something different instead ignores people’s clear preferences. I have explained in a previous comment that many people do not find post office counters conducive to their needs and you have confirmed what a limited range of basic banking services they provide. I do not think any of us should presume what services bank customers might need at different stages of their lives. The relationship between citizens and their bank is unlike any other in the field of commerce. Banks profess to understand that, and it is reflected in their advertising, yet they are acting contrarily in destroying that relationship.

One of the things I have had to do recently is sort out some problems with two standing orders. I was getting nowhere on-line or on the telephone so I went in to the particular bank and the problems were soon rectified and I received some compensation for the delays and inconvenience. I couldn’t have done that at a post office.

I have a current account with the Nationwide Building Society and they are happy to change coins for notes. There is no good reason for banks to withdraw that function for account holders. As a building society they cannot do foreign exchange but since many shops and the high street banks provide that service it has not been a problem.

Marian – I have a large branch of my bank (NatWest) in town, about three miles away. Free parking is available nearby. It has an ATM outside and I can pay into my account using a machine inside or if I don’t have a paying-in slip I get a blank one at the counter. Next door is HSBC, where I have often paid in to a charity account using a blank paying-in slip – or I did until the pandemic arrived.

My bank was keen to encourage me to stop receiving paper statements and I obliged because it saves paper and postage. On the rare occasion that I need an authenticated document I can visit the bank. Recently I had to collect one from the Halifax branch in town, having stopped receiving statements by post.

Our village Post Office is a bit of a joke and is at one of the two checkouts where you pay for groceries and have to wait until paying customers have been served. We have lost the excellent Crown Post Office in town and now there is a counter in W H Smith. It’s far more convenient to use my bank.

Although I use cards and my phone to make payments I prefer to visit the bank when I make large payments and was asked to drop into my branch when arranging to purchase my present home. The bank even gave me a hamper when the purchase was concluded.

I am quite antiquated too but I still respect that people have different preferences. You are welcome to use your Post Office and I will continue to use my bank. 🙂

It strikes me that 60 years ago, if Which? had been around, we might have been having this same conversation about the closures of railway branch lines 🙂

Do you not think that the combined bank branch model, “BankHUBs”, as tested and reported on in the Community Access to Cash Pilots report Dec 2021 https://drive.google.com/file/d/12FjYQOpSKOqbhU3Em-_DEMrCjOcnSfHE/view
is the way forward for locations where individual bank branches are said not to be viable? Do they offer what is needed? How could they be modified, improved, best located?

Or are other options available?

One change I would like to see is a maximum time allowed for banks to answer telephone calls with knowledgable assistance.

It would make sense to wait until combined bank branches are in widespread use, so that we have had the opportunity to find out how well they work in practice.

Not every branch has to be financially viable, any more than every bus service does. Different interchange fees allow provision of free ATMs where they would not be financially viable.

I support the efforts of Which? in calling a halt on bank branch closures. Alternatives have to be in place before withdrawal of services.

This article seems to me to illustrate the confusion created by publicity, https://www.ft.com/content/4b04d72a-0dd8-4547-9f3c-bea875298db9

”UK banks face block on high street branch closures

FCA examines rules that would ensure consumers and businesses have continuing access to cash

where the emphasis is on “access to cash”. That role of bank branches has been, and is being, extended to far more other outlets – ATMs, post offices, cashback, cash without purchase. There is only one mention of “other banking services”, the primary reason people would normally visit a branch, apart from those wishing to withdraw very large amounts of cash, I suppose.

There does seem to be a pause in place on branch closures but the banks make a reasonable case that the online-only banks have the advantage of not having to subsidise such loss-making high street outlets that some/many regard as socially beneficial.

The question I asked above was not about stopping closures but about how best we can implement shared bank branches – BankHUBS. It might be useful to see constructive views on that.

I’m not keen on a dystopian society where the wishes of businesses take priority. Maybe it would help Which? if they stopped printing their magazines and expected us to read them online instead.

It’s a bit premature to be discussing shared banking facilities and cashback without purchase when no-one here has any experience of using these services.

Given that we are where we are, I support the proposal to establish banking hubs to serve all sizeable communities. But it remains to be seen whether this development will just lead to the further closure of bank branches in towns and cities as the big four amalgamate their separate branches into a single central hub.

In coming to agreements with many banks to provide basic teller services at post office counters, the Post Office has done the banking corporations an enormous favour. It is no doubt mutually beneficial and serves the business interests of the two sectors very well, but has it been the best outcome for consumers?

It has widened access to cash immeasurably, but that business is on the decline, the gradient of which has been increased by the pandemic and digital processes.

My concern is that the Post Office has not made many noticeable strides to accommodate the higher traffic occasioned by the closure of banks. They continue to provide a third-world experience in substandard facilities over an extremely limited range of very basic services. Going to a post office is not a welcome activity. It is a grudge venture. I have no complaints about the people behind the counter in a post office; they are clearly well-trained and knowledgeable about a wide range of postal, governmental and money services, and possibly they are grateful that the banks and PO deal has saved their jobs. Villages and small suburbs are no doubt glad that their post office remains open. However, the Post Office has not enjoyed a good reputation in the recent past over how it treats its people or how it serves population clusters, and consumers feel it could do a lot more to serve society.

I have complained previously that banks have not been investing in serving new communities and the same is true of the Post Office. Many villages and towns have expanded and whole new settlements have come into existence, but the Post Office has not upgraded existing facilities nor opened new ones. It is still, in most cases, a hole and corner operation. Only in some small towns where the PO has found it impossible to persuade another shopkeeper to take in the post office counter has a decent facility survived. Is that good enough in a civilised society like ours with a proud tradition of public service? Malcolm’s cross-reference to the closure of railway stations and entire routes in the 1960’s is pertinent.

Since everyone who has any sort of income has to have a bank account, the banks have a collective monopoly in the provision of banking services. Therefore, I feel it was incumbent on them to maintain a better network and standard of service provision. In retreating from so many areas they have exploited their monopoly position to the detriment of their customers and taken their loyalty for granted. The question will arise in due course whether we shall need any banks at all. No doubt solicitors, money lenders, pawnbrokers and other intermediaries will be able to furnish our mortgage requirements, provide unsecured loans, undertake regular payment functions to utilities, etc. Where that will leave businesses I am not sure but, as consumers, perhaps we shall just have to put up with it as usual. After all, we must not stand in the way of progress when it goes into reverse.

John, my experience of the two local post offices in villages near me has been excellent. One is a dedicated part of a stationery shop, the other a dedicated part of a gift and card shop. Both operate two counters and queues have never been excessive.

Wavechange, many contributions are made without direct experience of an issue, much gleaned from reports and others’ experiences. The Community Access to Cash Pilots report Dec 2021 https://drive.google.com/file/d/12FjYQOpSKOqbhU3Em-_DEMrCjOcnSfHE/view gives the views of those who have experienced the pilots, so is worth referring to in discussing banking changes. These were pilots so I doubt most, or anyone, here has had direct experience of them but it is quite reasonable to comment on them. Just as those who might never, perhaps, have had the experience of travelling from Cambridge to Heathrow by public transport recently are quite entitled to comment on the principle of that journey 🙂

“Dystopian – relating to or denoting an imagined state or society where there is great suffering or injustice.
I think we are not in that situation, but there are other states and societies that are.

Commercial companies offer us products and services and we are free to take or leave them. If we change our habits then the offerings will change. As regards online banking, successive governments have supported that with the way they make payments. Maybe we should be campaigning for such payments to be available from post offices in cash? Maybe employers should be required to pay wages in cash again as an option? Maybe there should be a council office where we can take cash to pay our council tax? Maybe we should have supermarkets and Amazon subsidise the small shops that have disappeared through their dominance?

Many factors have contributed to the current situation. We should be looking at a constructive way forward and, in my view, the pilot schemes appear to show that BankHUBs were successful. Why not build on that? Perhaps Which? could show its support for them and make proposals as to how they can best be set up and operated? I’d like to contribute to that sort of a discussion.

Malcolm – I am very much in favour of the trials. You may remember that I was the first to suggest the introduction of shared banking services, which I used for years. That was in addition to having my own bank at the end of the street. I look forward to trying a BankHUB but there is not one nearby.

Have you tried one of the new Cashback Without Purchase facilities? There is not one near where I live.

They were limited in the trials and, as yet, I don’t know when they are rolled out whether there will be one nearby. So far, although I live in the sticks, I have a bank branch, ATM and post offices should I need cash.

I am not sure our discussions about shared banking went back this far? https://www.bristol.ac.uk/media-library/sites/geography/migrated/documents/pfrc0301.pdf

I don’t recall Which? examining or promoting shared banking in all the time it has complained about branch closures. Perhaps I have missed it? But wouldn’t it be constructive of them to look at the alternatives as well? It was only when the Access to Cash report was published that they even seemed to acknowledge cash without purchase as a useful addition, despite it being raised in Convos (by me, as it happens, although that is of no importance) for around 3 years with no response from Which? when directly asked.

I think Which? should be prepared to make suggestions and proposals. Helped, of course, I would hope by its Members and contributors.

HSBC in the CENTRE of Worthing West Sussex has closed it’s counter. REFURBISHED whole of indoors to be machines only . I was told in advance it would close on a Friday in Oct and reopen 14 days later. No where on the building did it state it was reopening…. it looked closed forever. When I said to the cashier on the counter but what if I wish to have certain notes and coins. She replied go across the road to back of WHSmith where there is a post office. OR go to HSBC in Goring Road Worthing which will run as a conventional bank! She said staff would be in the Centre Worthing branch of HSBC to help people use the machines. What about disabled people …. It’s all about profit. No service. I am keeping the account because its a bank and dread when I have to find a way to transfer money as a gift to a family member in USA. I travel 3 hours round trip to get to this branch I live in Worthing there is only a bus an hour. At least I can go into WHSmith to get coins! or small notes like £5.00. the machines in HSBC will just give you the notes they want to give. There are bills to pay where it’s cash only eg the grass cutter and window cleaner and occasional tip. Which please keep fighting for access to cash. Why because of older people not being computer literate or have spare to get one and learn. Also to safeguard my access to money I opened a Nationwide current account to pay bills on a laptop not using an APP. What happened 2 days ago. I couldn’t to telephone transfer from HSBC into Nationwide account. I could pay Christmas money into younger people’s account from Nationwide but was told it would be in a queue. It took more than 12 hours to get to them. I am sure it was hell for those being paid monthly and wanting to do transactions for Christmas. Money is a safe back up when technology fails like Lloyds and Nationwide.!

Alice says:
23 December 2021

Last week I spent a fruitless two days of my precious free time searching for a bank that had counter services that would accept cash. My daughter needs to bank cash having just started working in the hospitality sector. She banks with HSBC and was told by the sole by a clipboard walker in what previously was a large branch in the West Midlands, to use the “amusement arcade” style deposit machine. Her carefully checked and double checked coins were thus deposited and she was stunned to see the machine say that it was just over £20 short of the amount that had been deposited in a mixture of .50 pieces, £1 and £2 coins. The machine gave no option to return the coins and my daughter couldn’t call the lone clipboard walker over as it would have meant leaving the machine, and the walker had a long impatient queue of people waiting for her attention anyway. She left totally fed up and deflated at the bank stealing her hard earned cash.
Last week, I went with her to the same branch again (there are so few you see) so that I could fight her corner if the machine miscalculated the amount deposited again.
Again, the money had been triple checked by two people before being bagged. Once again, the machoine undervalued the cash coins but this time it was nearly £30 short! a huge amount to go missing! I waited forever to be able to call the clipboard walker over, and explained what had happened and that this wasn’t an isolated incident, and could we please have the coins returned. She questioned that we had deposited what we said we had and then after a stern rebuttal of this fob off, disappeared for an age, and eventually came back with a complaints form, no, they couldn’t return the coins she said but perhaps just this once they would credit my daughters account with the shortfall.
We then looked at three separate towns a distance apart for a counter service that would accept cash for future deposits. HSBC have now got rid of all counter services in our local vicinity. My Nat West bank is the only way we are able to deposit cash, but that means it has to go into my a/c and then I have to transfer it to daughter.
Personally, I feel physically sick whenever I see the bank adverts that proclaim to be at your side, with you through your life’s journey, there to help and other empty, worthless platitudes and declarations of support. It’s disgusting that they are allowed to spout such guff, advertising authorities should be on them like a ton of bricks.
In future, I’ve advised my daughter to keep hold of her cash and spend it, not deposit it. In the same way our grandparents used to keep cash under the bed because they didn’t trust the banks. Seems like those days have returned. They lie.

Marian G. says:
31 December 2021

Alice: Surely you never believed the banks’ mendacious adverts which proclaimed them to be ‘ … on our side’ & similar rubbish?? Obviously you’ve not shared the opinion I’ve had of banks for decades. ‘Advertising authorities’ won’t do anything about it – they encourage it. Excellent advice you’ve given your daughter in that she keep her cash & spend it … a waste of time trying to do anything else with it (as you’ve found out) – the most shocking part of your story relating to the way in which you were humiliated by ignorant (uneducated) bank staff. Never mind our grandparents squirreling cash away in the bedroom: because of the disgraceful way in which banks treat their customers, as evidenced by these posts, stuffing money under the mattress nowadays has become increasingly popular!

My reading of Alice’s comment suggests that, far from believing the “banks’ mendacious adverts”, she is contemptuous of the banks’ “empty, worthless platitudes” and regards them as “guff”. I agree with her that the ASA should investigate some of their claims under the harsh light of reality. Perhaps, for lack of evidence, no consumer body has made any complaints about them; well, there is no shortage of feedback now on the way that banks have been treating communities. To add insult to injury they have been accelerating the rate of closures in order to pre-empt any regulatory measures that would force them to keep more branches open.

Marian G. says:
2 January 2022

To John Ward: The ’empty worthless platitudes’ which the banks spout is, as you say, ‘guff’. And people who believe guff are gullible, unfortunately. I never believed those ads, & they’ve been going for decades. The ASA, perhaps the most useless authority of all, will do nothing about it. But you’re undoubtedly right about the banks accelerating the closure rate of branches in order to pre-empt regulation which might – but probably won’t – force them to keep more open. They’ve got smarter lawyers, John.

The banks have achieved their initial objective of closing a very large number of branches over the last few years before Which? or the government woke up to what was happening. You might be right in saying they won’t be forced to stop closing branches since they have possibly gone as far as public opinion will accept for the time being and they have agreed to pause their closure programmes while alternatives [such as BankHubs] are considered.

In my comment you have referred to above I was repeating your words in quotes. In your response to Alice I thought you were suggesting that she believed the banks’ cynical marketing speak whereas she in fact made clear that she despised it.

Historic bank advertising did indeed promote their supportive and community-oriented characteristics but in those days it was truthful. A strong government should be able to outsmart the banks’ lawyers if it has the will to do so but this government prefers to broker gentlemen’s agreements and soft compromises rather than lay down the law, which is why Which? has had to mount a robust campaign.

I have always considered the ASA to be one of the better regulators. I occasionally read their reports on their investigations and think they have done a good job in dealing with advertising that does not comply with the advertising code. They are actually quite powerful because if they order that a contravening advert should not be published again the media are diligent in rejecting it thus depriving the advertiser of a platform.

LLEWELLYN WILLIAMS says:
23 December 2021

I would like to see included a fight against the steady removal of Bank Counter Services, as has recentlyhappened with our local HSBC Branch. Previously, attempting to draw any large amount of money was subject to invasive questions as to what we wanted it for and an immediate over-the-counter limit of £7,500. Now, one will have to go through hoops inorder to finally get access to large amounts of one’s OWN CASH! When enquiring at Halifax and Nationwide branches we were told that they expect their counter services to eventually disappear, withthe former stating that they expected no more than a few weeks notice, at best. Do we see such signs as the first move in the GREAT RESET (‘ You will own nothing and you will be happy!’ ) removal of cash, and the Banks simply stealing our savings? WHICH should certainly extend its questioning.

Every bank in the small town of Dursley,Gloucestershire has now closed. I bank with Barclays and they closed in Dursley 2 years ago but most people could then access the branch in Stroud nine miles away which has now also closed. Our nearest branch is now Gloucester and there was always a large queue there even before Dursley and Stroud branches closed. Now it will also be almost impossible to get served there. We can do some things at our local Post Office but still need to go into the bank on some occasions during the year.

John Shepherd says:
23 December 2021

My banking business was changed from The Royal Bank of Scotland after being with them for 37 yrs including their transition from Williams & Glyn’s to RBS.
I moved over to Lloyds TSB in July 2011 and then remained with TSB during their split from Lloyds.
My nearest TSB branch is 8.9 miles away in Maghull or 15.3 miles away in Pemberton,Wigan.
Neither are easily accessible by bus or train let alone the cost that would be incurred if they were.
I live in open rural countryside and would require the use of my car in reaching either.
My nearest current free of charges cash (ATM) machine is a 5 mile drive away.

Ask yourselves why the branches are closing. Is it possible they are unsustainable because they do not have enough patronage? Maybe it is a sign of the times, just as ATMs were when they were first installed; like branches themselves were when they first opened. You can’t expect banks (or any other business) to sopport an activity which is experiencing dwindling use. What is needed is a contingency for the closing facilities. Anything else is like trying to hold back the tide.

You are right that branches have closed and ATMs removed because there is less demand, Bill. Unfortunately that creates a problem for many people and businesses that relied on their services. There are now initiatives to look at the needs of communities and to provide shared services, which could be beneficial to both consumers and the banks. It’s years too late.

In the last five or ten years many have struggled with loss of ATMs and bank branches and contingency or more permanent measures should have been in place where necessary. It particularly concerns me that many have been pushed away from using cash into our digital world which they are neither comfortable with or understand enough about to avoid scams.

Fair points, however, the banks spent years asking all of us to use the internet banking and then when we did they made the excuse that the banks were not being used enough. They need to be to look after their customers needs rather than just their own.

There are now more ways, and outlets, of accessing cash then ever with the banks’ arranging for post offices to provide both access to cash and basic banking services. There were, for example, around 58000 10 years ago, 63000 when ftu ATMs were at their peak, and 65500 now. There are as many ftu ATMS now as there were 10 years ago despite a large reduction in demand for cash.

The “cash without purchase” initiative is being expanded to 2000 more outlets and, if successful, should give people who have never lived near an ATM, bank or post office the ability to conveniently withdraw cash.

The post office arrangement was introduce 3 or 4 years ago. The cash without purchase was prevented from being launched by EC legislation but we are now free from that.

Barclays have closed our local branch in Booker, and I believe they are in the process of closing the one in Marlowe bucks and the branch in high wycombe! Absolutely ridiculous as will not be able to use them as I can’t do on line banking and the nearest branch will not be accessible to me, have been with them for over fifty years so much for consideration for loyalty!

We lost all our banks in Hay-On-Wye some years ago. It is pathetic that these large banks have no moral integrity or shame, and provide no cash machines whatsoever in our locale. The legislation in this country is always well behind the actuality. It’s all talk talk and no walk walk!
Successive Parliaments do nothing but waffle on and on and talk big, but never deliver proper laws to protect the public. We are such a can’t do country, run by the money men, who are so short-sighted it’s corrosive and downright mean spirited.

We too have had several branch closures in the area – I bank with HSBC. On Tuesday I went in to the Watford branch (9 miles away). They have made this a digital branch: no counter service, do what you need to yourself! The nearest branches with full service (I was told) are a short distance away in Pinner (another 4 miles) and Harrow (another 6 miles). REALLY? Who pays for the travel and time? I am seriously thinking of closing my account and moving to a bank that provides full banking services, including good telephone support (latest telephone calls with HSBC have involved half hour waits)!

The root of the bank closure problem is the advancement of technology, which is ongoing unabated. Banks no longer need branches when the computer giants are providing them with the means to operate with sophisticated computer technology systems.

Now the genie is out of the bottle, the burning question is – what next? Some are now using their mobile phones to pay for goods and services.

According to this page around 10 million people use phone payments, at least for some transactions: https://www.statista.com/topics/6757/mobile-payments-in-the-uk/#dossierKeyfigures

All the more reason for the government to take action to ensure that those who wish or need to use cash can continue to do so.

Craig Cadogan says:
23 December 2021

Banks are closing branches and saving themselves money, but leaving the public and small businesses nowhere to bank, unless you drive many miles to an actual bank, banks are forcing a cashless society on us, and then blaming us . These criminal businesses must be bought to account

Bob B says:
23 December 2021

All Royal Bank of Scotland Branches are now closed in North Wales. The nearest Branch to North Wales is Chester, 40 miles or more from Bangor. They obviously no longer wanted, or deserved, my business.