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30 Sep 2020

TSB to close 164 bank branches in 2021

Find out why TSB is cutting almost half of its network and the full list of locations

TSB has revealed plans to close a further 164 of its branches next year, putting 900 jobs at risk. This is in addition to the 82 branches that the bank is already closing this year.

The result is that the number of TSB branches will have fallen by almost half (46%) in the space of two years - going from 536 branches at the beginning of this year to just 290 by the end of 2021.

This marks a rapid acceleration in closures for a bank that had closed just 98 branches in the previous five years.

In total, TSB will have lost 55% of the network that it had at the beginning of 2015. As things stand, this will be the third-biggest reduction, behind The Co-Operative Bank (77%) and RBS (74%).

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Which branches are closing?

The table below shows which TSB branches will be closing next year.

71 of the 164 branches are in Scotland. This means that by the end of 2021, TSB will have closed two thirds of its branches in Scotland, compared to around half in England, and 40% in Wales.

In fact, as a result of these closures, next year will see Scotland overtake the South East as the region with the highest volume of bank closures.

It will also meant that two more local authorities (Glasgow North East and Jarrow) are down to their last bank branch. This takes the total for the UK to 17.

Nine of the branches listed below have actually closed early due to the coronavirus, as it has been decided they will no longer re-open.

Why is TSB closing almost half of its branches?

TSB cited changing customer behaviour as a major driving force behind the move, describing a 'marked shift' towards digital banking. This echoes the reasoning that The Co-Operative Bank gave when it announced the closure of 18 branches in August,

TSB's customer banking director, Robin Bulloch, said that the bank will 'continue to invest' in its remaining branch network, alongside 'improved digital capability'.

He added that TSB is 'taking steps to support vulnerable customers and those in rural locations', with the bank claiming that it has carefully selected which branches to close to ensure that 94% of customers can still travel to a branch in 20 minutes or less.

How many bank branches are closing?

TSB isn't the only bank shutting branches, but it's the first to announce plans for 2021.

This is an unenviable accolade for a bank that had already announced the most closures for 2020. Its total of 82 branches is ahead of both second-placed Barclays (59 closures) and HSBC (28).

Meanwhile, both the NatWest (56 closures) and Virgin (22) groups have put closures on hold due to the pandemic. In total, as many as 265 branches may close this year, including The Co-operative Bank's plan to cut 18.

This is relatively tame compared with what we have seen over the past few years, with more than 3,600 branches closing since the start of 2015 - 37% of the total banking network.

This is equivalent to 600 banks a year or almost 12 branches a week.

Today's announcement may fuel fears that we will return to a similar rate in 2021.

The chart shows the number of closures (and scheduled closures) for every brand between January 2019 and December 2021

What guidelines must banks follow?

The announcement from TSB comes just weeks after the FCA revealed new guidance for banks to follow when closing their branches.

The guidelines are quite similar in scope to the current Access to Banking Standard, which is a separate, voluntary scheme that the majority of banks have signed up to. All banks are expected to follow the FCA's guidance.

Both sets of guidelines stipulate that banks should carry out and publish a full impact assessment before closing a branch and that they should give customers at least 12 weeks' notice before doing so. They should also provide information on alternative services that are available once a bank is gone.

While the impact of the new FCA guidance remains to be seen, our investigation into the Standard showed it wasn't having much of an effect.

We found that large groups of customers were unaware their branch was even closing - let alone seeing an impact assessment - with HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Santander, The Co-operative Bank, TSB and Virgin Money all confirming they had never reversed a decision to close a bank. NatWest Group and Barclays refused to comment.

What can I do if my branch is closing?

If there are still other banks' branches local to you, it could be worth switching. This has been made much easier in recent years, as our guide explains.

Alternatively, you can carry out some basic banking tasks at Post Offices, such as depositing or withdrawing cash.

Many banks now allow you to pay in cheques to the Post Office, or virtually via your mobile phone. However, there are limitations to the services the Post Office can replace, as we found in our November 2018 investigation.

If you're happy to bank online, by phone or app, your choice of banks multiplies. You can find our Which? Recommended Providers here.