Barclays confirms further branch closures as banks slash high street presence

Barclays double unsecured lending limit for SMEs to £100,000

Barclays has confirmed the closure of a slew of high streets banks this month as the move to shutter branches by UK lenders speeds up.

The bank has confirmed the closure of 27 branches in May with 63 already closed this year, with its total tally of planned and completed closures in 2022 now at 103, according to figures from consumer group Which?.

It comes amid a wider push from UK lenders to slash their physical presence in the UK amid a sustained slide in cash usage and rapid take-up of digital banking through the pandemic.

A February report by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition found that the monthly closure rate of banks doubled during the pandemic and saw 4000 branches closed between march 2020 and October 2021.

Barclays has said it is looking to provide alternative options to its customers as it cuts back its physical footprint.

“This includes working with the local community to find different, more flexible ways for our colleagues to continue to provide local banking support, such as through pop-up presences,” a spokesperson said.

But the decline in branch numbers has sparked fears from regulators over access to cash, with ministers set to give fresh powers to the City watchdog this year to intervene where access is threatened.

The Financial Conduct Authority will be granted powers to intervene at “both a national and local level” to protect access to cash and ensure communities are not cut off.

City minister John Glen said this month the Treasury would ensure “people are still able to use cash as part of their daily lives”.

“It’s crucial to ensure that no person nor community across the UK is left behind as we embrace a more digital world,” he added.