Jenny Ross, Which? Money Editor, said:
“The loss of so many branches across the UK will hit communities hard – and there is still a clear demand for access to traditional banking services and cash. Our research has found two thirds of people would find life difficult without convenient access to a branch, while 11 million people lack the confidence to carry out basic banking tasks online.
“If banks want their customers to go online they must ensure they can deliver consistently reliable services – instead of the current rate of regular IT glitches that people endure. The next government should urgently intervene with legislation that protects access to cash as a vital backup and for as long as it is needed.”
Notes to editors
Which? has recorded every branch closure since 2015.
The below table shows closures between January 2015 – December 2019 and does not include TSB’s planned closures.
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- Nine in 10 people believe it is important that cash is preserved as a vital backup when digital systems fail.
- 11 million adults (22%) lack the confidence to do basic banking tasks online, despite the rapid transition to digital services and countless people having lost access to their local branch through branch closures.
- Two thirds (65%) stated that they would find it difficult to live their life without having access to a branch – at a time when the industry is carrying out widespread branch closures across the UK.
- Which? discovered that three quarters of the population (75%) think everyday banking services should effectively be considered as a utility – as essential to the way they live their lives as having gas, electricity or water running in their homes.
- Some 8.4 million (17%) people said they prefer to bank at a branch, which is perhaps unsurprising when the latest IT failures simply highlight how the industry cannot guarantee reliable online services.
- The Which? report also found that despite the transition to online services, six in 10 felt it was important to maintain access to a bank account without requiring the customer to go online.
- Meanwhile, a massive 94% had concerns about digital connectivity, while 92% are concerned by safety and security online.