Savings Accounts

Up to half a million could be without bank in months - 10 areas most at risk

Almost half a million people are on the cusp of being 'bankless' within the next year as high street bank closures continue, according to new research.

Bank closures have been rife up and down the country as lenders look to save money and move more people online.

Already 28 constituencies are without a bricks and mortar bank, AI and analytics provider SAS found.

Areas include:

  • St Helens North, Bradford South and Don Valley which all lost their last physical branch within the last three years.
  • South Leicestershire saw five closures in the same time,
  • Edinburgh West had nine closures,
  • Nottingham East residents lost all four remaining branches.

SAS has now identified the 10 areas most likely to have no banks next year. Half are in Scotland and half in England.

Looking at the seven largest bank brands, it produced its findings by comparing the number of branches open in each constituency in 2020 and the number currently open in 2023, to calculate a yearly bank loss rate.

Assuming the areas continue on the same trajectory, SAS says the following constituencies are most at risk of being without any branches next year:

  1. Ross, Skye and Lochaber, Scotland (18,819 people per branch)
  2. Argyll and Bute, Scotland (8,626 people per branch)
  3. Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, Scotland (800 people per branch)
  4. Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, Scotland (188 people per branch)
  5. Copeland, England (39,000 people per branch)
  6. South Down, England (123,121 people per branch)
  7. North Ayrshire and Arran, Scotland (20,320 people per branch)
  8. Central Devon, England (47,612 people per branch)
  9. Tewkesbury, England (112,255 people per branch)
  10. Gainsborough, England (98,796 people per branch)

Ross, Skye and Lochaber has lost 215 branches since 2020, with only four remaining.

Like the majority of areas on the list, it is extremely rural with a low population density - with four people per square kilometre.

And it is so low on banking facilities there is now only one branch per 18,819 people in the Scottish Highland constituency.

These rural areas also have a typically older population who rely on in-person banking.

Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire has only one bank left according to SAS, despite having a population of more than 112,000.

However it's not all bad news for banking customers. Burton, South East Cambridgeshire and Wolverhampton North East each got one new bank branch in the last few years. Another 21 areas saw no change to the number of banks in their area.

The 10 areas least affected by branch closures:

  1. Wolverhampton North East, England
  2. South East Cambridgeshire, England
  3. Burton, England
  4. Wentworth and Dearne, England
  5. Sheffield Hallam, England
  6. Liverpool West Derby, England
  7. Stoke-on-Trent North, England
  8. Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, England
  9. Chatham and Aylesford, England
  10. Derby North, England

Louise Potts, head of banking and customer advisory at SAS UK, believes a hybrid banking model - a mix of in-person and online - is the best solution for lenders.

She also says bank sharing hubs could work, where different lenders share one physical building.

She said: "These hubs are owned by Cash Access UK and run by the Post Office, as a way of bringing back banking facilities in an accessible way to the areas that need it.

"There are currently seven hubs open in the UK, each having different schedules whereby they rotate banks each day. They’re located in London, Devon, Lanarkshire, Angus, East Yorkshire, Essex and South Ayrshire, with 61 additional hubs planned for communities across the UK.

"They could serve as financial centres and foster growth in communities with a higher concentration of residents and businesses alike, improving financial inclusion. It could also benefit a number of communities with no bank branches, especially those in built-up areas serving many customers such as Edinburgh South West, Nottingham East and North Swindon, according to our research."

Have you been impacted by bank closures in your area? How are you coping with the change? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Helen Barnett

Helen is a journalist, editor and copywriter with 15 years' experience writing across print and digital publications. She previously edited the Daily Express website and has won awards as a reporter. Read more here.