Barclays shuts more high street branches

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Barclays said it will close 15 more of its branches, taking the tally of closures across British lenders to more than 100 so far this year.

Sites in London, St Helens and Bridgwater are among those facing the axe, with closures to happen by the first week of May. This is on top of another 15 closures the bank had announced earlier this month.

Last week, Natwest said 23 of its branches would be closed, an announcement that came after news of 40 planned closures from Lloyds and Halifax.

According to consumer group Which?, more than 5,000 bank branches have been lost in the last eight years.

Account holders are increasingly shunning branch visits as cash use declines and most transactions can be done online. Lloyds said the number of customers visiting the branches it plans to close had dropped by 60pc on average over the last five years.

But the move hits elderly customers who seldom use internet banking or shop online, as well as small businesses wishing to deposit cash. It also makes setting up accounts and other big transactions harder, especially for rural customers, as towns lose branches and choice.

Jenny Ross, of Which?, said: “It’s vital that new legislation protects free access to cash for the millions of people who rely on it.

“The Government must guarantee minimum levels of access without fees being charged and give the Financial Conduct Authority powers to oversee the cash system to ensure it meets community needs.”

A Barclays spokesman said: “Our customers’ behaviour has changed significantly in recent years, with the majority choosing online banking. As we adapt, we are closing less well used branches while investing in brilliant customer service and digital technology. We are maintaining our community presence with alternative options for customers who still require in-person support. 

“This includes our network of Barclays Local sites in libraries and community centres, bank pods and mobile vans, our cashback without purchase service, Shared Banking Hubs and everyday banking at the Post Office.”

Banks once promised not to close a branch if it was the last one in town, but many have abandoned this pledge.