Bank closures: 13 million people have lost half of local businesses
About 13 million adults in the UK live in areas where at least half of the local banks and building societies have closed, analysis by the BBC reveals.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show nearly 6,000 local branches have shut since 2010, a fall of a third. The consumer group Which? called the number of closures “alarming”.
Trade association UK Finance said closing a branch was a last resort when usage falls. Banks and building societies have been closing as services have moved online and fewer people visit branches.
The breakdown of ONS figures shows that 133 out of 650 parliamentary constituencies across the UK have seen the number of branches fall by at least half since 2010.
Figures from Link, a cash machine network, also show that between January and August of this year 1,400 free to use cash machines closed across Great Britain.
Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire had six banks a decade ago but the last one, a branch of Halifax, closed in July. “Bank closures have just ripped the heart out of the town” said Karen Doyle who runs a bakery on the main street.
“For 40 years the cashiers and managers used to come in at lunchtime, and you’d get to know them and it fostered a feeling of community but that’s all gone now.
“What really annoys me, is that as taxpayers we bailed the banks out when they were in trouble and now they’ve left places like Sowerby Bridge behind,” said Mrs Doyle.
Residents have to make what can be an hour-long round trip into Halifax to access banking services. “It used to be a 10-minute job, taking the weekend’s cash into the bank, but it can now take most of the morning,” said pub landlord Dan Shackleton.
“With every bank closure we’ve lost another cash machine as well.
“This is a tourist town and and I’ve lost count of the number of times that our three cash machines have run out.” The closure of bank branches and building societies has also contributed to the loss of over 1,400 free to use cash machines in the first eight months of 2018.