Lloyds Banking group has announced that it will be closing 49 of its branches in the UK, a move which will result in nearly 100 job losses as well as a reduced ability to offer face to face services to its customers. The bank said in its announcement that “We are constantly transforming our branch network as we reflect changing customer demand for branch transactions and service. Sometimes this will mean we make the difficult decision to close branches.”
The bank said that the closure of its branches is due to changing customer behavior. With increasing number of its customers choosing online or telephone banking services, there’s less transactions being made in the branches and less need for them to provide this service. Statistics show that the online banking industry has continued to grow steadily over the last 10 years, with 63% of individuals using this service on a regular basis as of this year.
A spokesperson for Lloyds bank said that “Customers are increasingly choosing to use digital and mobile channels for their everyday banking needs. As a consequence, the number of customers visiting some of our branches has declined in recent years. In response to this; we have confirmed the locations of some branches which will close next year across Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland.” They added that branches still remain a “key part of the service” it offers to customers.
Lloyds had made plans to shut 100 branches earlier this year, which would result in 200 jobs losses; however it was strongly disputed by unions. Unite reacted to the news by arguing that it would undermine growth in the banking industry as well as leave a vast number of individuals and communities without access to “valued local banking”.
Rob MacGregor, Unite national officer, said: “Lloyds Banking Group needs to halt this unnecessary bank branch closure programme. Local communities are making it clear that the closure of their local branch excludes customers who cannot use digital means to conduct their financial transactions. Having returned to profitability Lloyds needs to stop ignoring its corporate social responsibilities.”
The bank has seen a rise in its profits this year, and has said it’s seen strong financial performance” in its third quarter profits. Pre-tax profits have seen an increase as chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio’s continues to turn around the performance of the once 43% state owned bank which was bailed out by taxpayers during the financial crisis. These improved results come despite the banks ongoing PPI scandal, for which it’s paid out over 18 billion to date, and £1.6 billion this year to its customers for mis-sold payment protection insurance.