HSBC announced earlier this week that two branches in the North East will close this year, as part of the bank’s plans to close 69 branches nationwide.
The news is the latest blow, bringing the total to eight bank branches planning to close permanently in our region this year – so far. It’s the usual story – less than 50% of customers use its bank branch network, according to HSBC, but that still leaves a significant number of customers unable or unwilling to bank online.
A full list of North East closures announced so far this year is as follows:
Read more: HSBC closes two branches in the North East
Lloyd’s: Ponteland, closed Feb 8 (nearest alternative branch: Newburn, 4.5 miles).
Halifax: Consett, closed March 3 (Closest alternative branch: Metrocentre, 9.5 miles).
TSB: Gateshead, due to close on 10 May 2022 (nearest alternative branch: Newcastle Northumberland Street, 2 miles); Newton Aycliffe, scheduled to close 3 May 2022 (nearest alternate branch: Darlington, 6.5 miles) and Redcar, scheduled to close 4 May 2022 (nearest alternate branch: Billingham 8.5 miles ).
HSBC: Bishop Auckland, scheduled to close 23 August 2022 (nearest alternate branch: Durham 9 miles) and Hartlepool, scheduled to close 1 September 2022 (nearest alternate branch: Middlesbrough 8 miles).
Nat West: Gosforth, due to close on June 22 (nearest alternative branch: Newcastle Northumberland Street 2.5 miles).
Consumer group Which? urged banks to immediately suspend bank branch closures unless they can prove they can take action to prevent people from losing access to cash and valuable banking services.
Its analysis shows that 736 branches closed last year, and another 338 closed or are expected to close in 2022.
The most recent figures from UK Finance, the banking association, show that two-thirds of adults (72%) have used online banking and more than half (54%) have used mobile banking in 2020. However, there are still many people and small businesses that rely on local banks and the services they offer.
Anabel Hoult, Which one? chief executive, said: ‘The alarming acceleration of bank branch closures has left many who depend on them for essential banking services at risk of being cut adrift, which appears to run counter to the work being done in the industry to protect access to cash. While many people can now perform digital banking transactions, millions of people are not yet ready or able to do so.”
Since 2015, banks and building societies have been disappearing from our main streets at a frightening rate – 54 each month, or 4,851 in total to be precise. The North East fared quite lightly in the culling, with the South East seeing the biggest reduction in branches since 2015, with 623 closings and another 32 scheduled for 2022.
However, Scotland was the first part of the UK to see more than half of its banks close, with 545 of its 1,040 branches closed and another 11 open this year. It has since been joined by the North West, which has seen 561 of its 1,070 banks close permanently, with another 22 expected to join in 2022.
Why are so many bank branches closing?
The way we do our banking has changed dramatically over the past few years, with increased use of online and mobile services and fewer people visiting branches. However, some transactions – such as paying cash or larger checks or financial advice – cannot be completed online.
What are the alternatives to bank branches?
The post office
People living in communities where banks have closed are usually directed to the post office as an alternative.
Earlier this year, the post office reached an agreement with major high street banks that will ensure customers continue to access banking services at its 11,500 branches. The deal means that customers of all major banks – including small businesses – will be able to use the post office for basic banking.
But La Poste’s banking services are limited to withdrawing money from your current account, checking your balance, and paying cash and checks if you have a payment slip from your bank and can wait a day or two from more so that they are compensated.
The list of what you cannot do is considerably longer, from transferring money from your account to seeking advice and finding out about other financial products such as savings or mortgages. The banks themselves usually require customers to call a local branch for fraud checks or to make an appointment to discuss more complex matters.
And with more than 200 post offices closed in the past two years, according to Citizens Advice, a growing number of branches are located in newsagents, convenience stores and retailers such as WHSmith – and a solitary counter in a store in the corner or a supermarket is not the idea that many have of a private or personal service.
Mobile banking vans
Lloyds Banking Group offers mobile banking vans, which visit local communities and allow you to cash cheques, make deposits and…
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This notice was published: 2022-03-17 15:09:26