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The demise of the bank branch
You’d be very lucky if you live in an area where no banks have closed branches in the past few years – new figures show that a third of banks have shut over the past five years.
The calculations, from consumer champion Which?, found that more than 3,000 bank branches have closed down since the start of 2015. Royal Bank of Scotland is the worst offender, shuttering almost three quarters of its branches, while NatWest closed half.
What’s more, if you live in the Yorkshire area of Wentworth and Dearne you will be in the first constituency to have no bank branches left at all. Eight other constituencies are on the brink, with just one branch left.
It’s not just closures that have hit customers, with other branches reducing the hours or days of the week they’re open. So if your local branch has closed and you don’t want to bank online, what are your other options?
The Post Office is the biggest lifeline for those who have been cut off from their bank. You can do your basic banking at these branches, including withdrawing money and checking the balance on your UK bank accounts, while most customers will also be able to pay money in.
But you won’t be able to transfer money to another account or get help with any questions you have about your savings or current account.
SWITCH TO THE SUPERMARKET
A number of supermarkets are now offering banking services, with a small number even having a mini bank branch in store. Sainsbury’s, Tesco and M&S all offer bank accounts, with their ATMs in store letting you withdraw cash, check your balance and deposit money.
M&S has actual bank branches in a number of its stores, but unfortunately they tend to be in larger towns and cities, which are likely to already have other bank services.
BANK IN A VAN
NatWest and Lloyds offer a travelling bank, with a van going to different locations throughout the UK six days a week. In the van you can make deposits, pay bills and withdraw cash, and also talk to staff. Customers can check online to see when the van will next be in their area.
A FLYING BANKER
Bank branches in remote areas in Scotland are only open for a few hours each week, with a banker flying between the different locations to staff the bank. In the Orkney Islands, RBS’s ‘flying banker’ travels by air (or ferry if needed) to man branches on the remote islands of South Walls, Westray, Sanday and North Ronaldsay.