The NatWest bank in Crewkerne will close, as the Royal Bank of Scotland announces that a high number of its branches in the South West of England are being cut. The branches are set to close next year in May and June 2018. RBS which is majority owned by the tax payer, has given reasons for the closures due to more of its customers banking online. Since 2014, use of its branches has fallen by around 40%. The Unite union which represents bank employees has called the cuts ‘savage’ and commented that the Government signing off on the branch closure programming is ‘alarming’.
In last week’s Budget, the Government announced that it had revived its plans to ‘sell down’ its stake in the banking sector and is aiming to sell £15bn of its shares by 2023. The recent announcement by RBS that it will be closing 62 Royal Bank of Scotland and 197 NatWest branches, comes just days after the Lloyds Banking Group informed staff that it will be closing another 49 branches of the Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Bank, in addition to 100 branches marked out for closure earlier this year. With more customers banking digitally online and through their mobiles, concerns have been raised that the end of branch network banking will be on the cards much sooner than expected.