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Hundreds of bank branches across the UK permanently shut their doors during the coronavirus crisis, a new report has found.
More than 500 branches have closed since the start of the pandemic last year, according to the consumer champion Which?.
Repeated national lockdowns appear to have accelerated a shift to online banking for many customers.
But there are growing concerns over the impact the closure of branches in towns could have on vulnerable customers who rely on in-person banking. © Provided by Daily Mail(
The Financial Conduct Authority had urged banks to delay branch closures during the pandemic where possible to do so.
But Which? found that some 529 branches have closed since March 23 last year when the first national lockdown was imposed, according to numbers reported by The Telegraph.
Barclays, NatWest, Lloyds, HSBC, Co-op Bank and TSB are among those said to have made cuts.
Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, told the newspaper he believes bank closures will now 'ramp up' as life returns to something closer to normal.
He said the coronavirus crisis had 'put the proverbial foot down' on the ongoing move away from in-person banking to online.
The FCA's plea to keep branches open is thought to have delayed some closures but Mr Shaw said the 'case for keeping those branches open is not as strong' now as it was last year.
MPs have repeatedly raised concerns about the impact of bank branch closures on vulnerable customers amid fears many people could effectively be cut off from their money.
Which? found that some 4,188 branches have closed in towns and cities across the UK since 2015.
Ministers have announced a consultation will run this summer on the issue of access to cash.
The Government is looking at legislating to ensure that everyone in the UK can physically access a bank within a reasonable travel distance. Read more