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Relentless branch closures at Lloyds Bank continue as digital banking takes hold

UK bank branches are being shuttered in large numbers as consumers choose online banking, with Lloyds Banking Group announcing more closures

Lloyds Banking Group is closing 28 more bank branches, with around 70 full time jobs affected, as customers increasingly turn to digital banking channels.

The latest announcement comes fewer than two months after the bank announced it was closing 60 branches, which affected 400 jobs. It also closed 48 branches in October last year.

Consumers are increasingly using mobile apps and websites to complete their everyday banking. Even meetings with bankers and advisers can now be completed via video conferencing.

The migration to online banking was accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic, when branches were forced to close due to lockdown restrictions and people lessened their use of cash in a bid to avoid physical contact with other people and possessions. This change resulted in many people choosing to continue using digital services even once restrictions were lifted.

Lloyds Banking Group said in a statement: “Like many other high street businesses, we’ve seen people using our branches less frequently in recent years as more customers choose to do most of their everyday banking online.

“We’re responding to the way our customers use our branches...the majority of customers are also using alternative ways to bank, and we have another branch close by,” added the bank.

Speaking in March, following the announcement of 60 branch closures, Vim Maru, retail director at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “Our branch network is an important way for us to support our customers, but we need to adapt to the significant growth in customers choosing to do most of their everyday banking online.”

But national officer at union Unite Caren Evans said: “This news is another example of a bank choosing to walk away from the communities who need access to banking. The actions of Lloyds Banking Group over the last few months are completely inexcusable. The management is letting down customers and their dedicated workforce.

“These closures will leave some customers more than 10 miles from their nearest bank branch. This is a betrayal of some of the most vulnerable, elderly and socially excluded in our communities who need local access to community banking.”

The cuts are unsurprising as traditional banks, such as Lloyds Banking Group, are trying to compete with digital-only banks that have lower overheads with smaller workforces and no branches.

In December 2021, consumer rights champion Which? called for a pause in bank branch closures amid fears that people could be left without easy access to cash and services.

Figures released by the consumer rights organisation at the time revealed that since the beginning of 2015, banks and building societies had closed or scheduled the closure of 4,734 branches in the UK, and an average of around 60 UK bank branches were closed in every month of 2021.

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