Author Lauren Howells

RBS has announced that it is going to close 259 of its branches, a move which the UK’s largest union, Unite, has described as “decimating its branch network and betraying communities.”

RBS is 71% owned by the government

The 71%-taxpayer-owned bank has said that 62 of these closures will be Royal Bank of Scotland branches and the other 197 will be NatWest branches.

Around 680 redundancies as a result of closures

Around 680 people will be made redundant as a result, which RBS says it will seek to manage on a voluntary basis, with compulsory redundancies being kept “to an absolute minimum”.

Number of customers using its UK branches has fallen, says RBS

The bank has said that more and more of its customers are opting to do their everyday banking online or via their mobile and that since 2014, the number of customers using its branches in the UK, has fallen by 40%.

RBS said that more than 5 million customers were now using its mobile banking app and 1 in 5 was only banking digitally.

An RBS spokesperson said:

“As customers continue to change the way they bank with us, we must change the way we serve them, so we are investing in our more popular branches and shaping our network, replacing traditional bricks and mortar branches with alternative ways to bank, including; Community Bankers, Mobile Bank on Wheels, and Post Offices, so that we can reach even more customers.”

Closure represents a “betrayal of loyal staff and customers”

The Royal Bank of Scotland Santiago

Unite national officer, Rob MacGregor said that “serious questions” needed to be asked about whether these closures marked the end of branch network banking.

He added:

“The closure of another 259 branches is savage and represents a betrayal of loyal staff and customers who have supported the bank for decades. Why is the Government signing off this alarming branch closure program? 

“A decade of slashing jobs has done nothing to boost morale, increase consumer confidence or improve the bank’s performance. This British-taxpayer funded bank should be concentrating on investing in jobs here in the UK, rather than cutting them wholesale.”

RBS said that it was “committed to ensuring our customers and communities are able to continue accessing quality banking services”.

BBC graph appeared to show the largest number of closures in South West and Wales

A graph on the BBC news website appeared to show that the largest number of closures would take place in the South West and Wales.

Earlier this week, The Sun reported that Lloyds Banking Group would be closing 49 branches next year. This would reportedly affect branches of Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland.