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NOTE: This briefing is no longer being updated. Our latest briefing on this subject can be found in Bank branches: why are they closing and what is the impact?

The public and government have worried over the seemingly remorseless decline in the number of bank branches in high streets and rural areas for at least 30 years. The forces driving closure programmes are varied but financial innovation and trends in society towards falls in demand for the use of cheques as a payment means; increased use of electronic payment services have all played their part.

The impact of the financial crisis and the new regulatory costs bearing down on profits have made banks look again at the viability of their branch networks.

It is feared that the impact of closures is will be felt most in rural areas and places where no viable alternative exists. Not all banks are closing branches and some of the newer ‘challenger’ banks are committed to the branch structure. 

Responding to political concern, the banking industry agreed a new protocol in March 2015 to be followed when branch closure programmes are planned. An independent review into the workings of the protocol was announced in May 2016. In July 2017 the Protocol was enhanced by an Access Standard which included new requirements regarding better communication with people affected by a closure. 


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