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In 2019 there were 10,405 bank or building society branches in the UK. Of these 8,525 were bank branches and 1,880 were building society branches.

Since the mid-1990s, the number of bank branches in the UK has been falling steadily, whilst the number of building society branches has been broadly steady. Between 2012 and 2019, the total number of bank and building society branches in the UK has fallen by 22%.

Bank branches - total

(BBA data is from the British Banking Association; ONS data is from the Office of National Statistics.)

Region and country data

Between 2012 and 2019 there was a 3% rise in the number of bank and building society branches in Northern Ireland. There was a fall in the number of branches in all of the other countries and regions of the UK. The largest percentage fall was in the South West (27%).

Change in number of branches - regional

The number of bank and building society branches per head of population is evenly spread across the UK, with an average of 1.7 branches per 10,000 people in each region and country of the UK. The highest number of branches per head is in Northern Ireland (2.0) and the lowest number per head is in the East Midlands (1.4).

Bank branches per 10,000 residents

Post offices

Post Offices provide some consumer financial services and sometimes act as an alternative to bank branches. In 2019 there were 11,638 Post Offices in the UK. Post Office numbers are discussed in detail in another Library Briefing Paper: Post Office numbers.

ATMs

ATMs (or cash machines) provide essential financial services to individuals by giving access to cash, balance and account information and some other limited functions. LINK, who operate the vast majority of cash machines in the UK, state that in November 2019 there were 60,907 cash machines in the UK, down 5,000 or 8% on the number in July 2018.

ATMs

Policy

Government policy to address the issue of bank branch closures is discussed in detail in the House of Commons Briefing Paper, Bank branch closures.

In brief, banks are bound by the ‘Access to Banking Standard’ which came into effect in May 2017. The Standard’s overarching aim is that:

  • Customers and relevant stakeholders of a bank branch that is closing will be provided with clear, understandable, accessible documentation and information about that specific closure as soon as the bank is able to do so, also what it will mean for them and how they can continue to bank following its closure.

The Standard was agreed by the banks, interested stakeholders, Trade Associations and the UK Government. The Lending Standards Board monitors compliance with the Standard and publishes a report on this topic once a year. The first annual report was published in September 2018: Access to Banking Standards summary report.


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