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Study reveals the cost of losing local branches

Date published: 27 February 2023

Read time: 3 minutes

Whitley Bay branch exterior

Since 2015, 55% of banks and building societies have closed their branches across the UK.

The average UK adult visits their bank or building society branch twice a month, whilst 1 in 7 (14%) go once a week. For people whose local branch has closed, journeys to reach branches further afield are costing both time and money.

We commissioned a national survey to find out more about the impact of branch closures.

Residents in the North East benefit most from the convenience of local access to branches. The average journey time to a branch takes just 20 minutes at a cost of £7.80.

Those in London bear the cost of the most expensive round trip – totalling £10.31 – with an average travel time of 26 minutes.

People in the North West, Scotland, and Yorkshire and Humber have the longest travel time, an average of 29 minutes, whilst nearly a quarter of people in Northern Ireland (24%) have a round-trip of more than an hour to their local branch.

A heatmap showing people's journey times to their bank or building society branch across the UK; and on the right, a table showing the number of branch closures across the UK since 2015, and how much it costs people for a round trip to their branch

As part of our commitment to our region’s high streets, providing face-to-face financial services in our communities and restoring convenient access to cash, we’ve launched an innovative collaboration with OneBanx.

In January, we began a UK-first pilot, introducing a OneBanx multi-bank kiosk to two of our branches – in Gosforth and Knaresborough.

The kiosks use Open Banking technology to allow small businesses and personal customers of any bank to withdraw and deposit cash via their bank account using an app.

The kiosks can be used by all UK bank account holders and offer greater convenience to those who might have otherwise had to travel significant distances to complete their basic banking tasks – costing time and money.

We are watching our pilot closely. It could serve as a formula to be adopted by other banks and building societies within their own communities. 

Michael Conville, acting chief customer officer at Newcastle Building Society, said: “We’re absolutely committed to our branch network and our innovative branch model has already proved successful, working in partnership with our communities to restore financial services. The pilot with OneBanx adds to this by providing people with convenient access to their bank account, and could also provide a blueprint for other financial service providers to reinstate these much-needed facilities throughout communities across the UK."

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