The UK has lost almost two thirds of its bank branches in the last 30 years, leaving a fifth of households now more than three kilometres from their nearest branch, new Which? figures reveal.
According to parliamentary records, there were 20,583 branches in 1988, but the consumer champion’s analysis of all the current account providers shows that there are just 7,586 today.
While wholesale bank closures have left one in five (19%) of the population more than three kilometres from their nearest branch as the crow flies, almost one in 10 people (8%) have to travel more than five kilometres and six per cent are more than six kilometres from a bank.
New Which? research also calls into question the viability of Post Office branches as a solution to plug the gap in banking services – with almost half of adults unaware that they are available as an alternative.
Sparsely-populated parts of Scotland have been hit hardest by closures, accounting for the top 70 communities farthest from a bank.
However, Which?’s data shows that the South West and East of England have been disproportionately affected, taking into account the number of people living in each region.
For many smaller towns and people in rural locations, the loss of a local bank has been compounded by cashpoints closing following changes to how the LINK network is funded – with previous Which? research revealing the poorest households and older generations are set to be worst hit as access to cash is cut.
The Post Office – with its sprawling network of 11,547 branches – is often proposed as a solution when bank branches close.