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Banks shut 1,000 branches in two years

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UK banks have pulled the shutters down on 1,000 local branches over the last two years, according to a new report by consumer group Which?

HSBC has closed more than a quarter of its network, or 321 branches, since January 2015, the group finds. RBS and Lloyds closed the next most branches with 191 and 180 respectively.

Lloyds is set to further trim its network by 200 branches in 2017 as it speeds up its cost cutting programme.

Even a smaller bank like Co-operative Bank has cut its branch numbers in half with 117 closures in the last two years.

Which? said that rural areas – South West England, Wales and Scotland – were most affected and cutting branches could be leaving the 20 million adults who don’t or can’t use online banking without access to services.

56 per cent of UK adults now bank online, but Which? urged banks to guide customers affected by branch closures.

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith says: “Banks can and must do a better job of working with their customers to understand their needs and those of the local community, especially when they are making changes to the services they offer or closing branches.”

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