No banks in 1,400 towns by the end of 2015

Campaign highlights how many communities will be without a high street bank.

A massive 1,400 communities won’t have a bank branch by the end of the year, according to the Campaign for Community Banking.

More than 600 branches could close this year, breaking last year’s record of 479.

So far this year, 302 bank branches have been axed, compared to just 195 in 2013.

Banks are shutting at a faster rate too, with 14 closed every week compared to nine in 2014.

Keyworth in Nottinghamshire and St Agnes in Cornwall are just two places which now no longer have branches.

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A decline in high street banking

The major increase in online banking coupled with fewer people visiting branches has led to this, according to major bank bosses.

More than half of account holders do their banking online now, largely because of its convenience.

According to the British Bankers' Association, Lloyds Banking Group’s weekly app usage rose from 2.1 million uses in 2012 to 4.7 million in 2013 to 6.6 million in 2014. At peak times it’s used around 138 times a second.

Small businesses, rural areas with limited broadband access and elderly people who don’t want to do their banking online are particularly at risk from bank closures.

And there is still demand for branches as some services such as taking out a mortgage or discussing your finances in detail are much better done face to face.

People look for different things from branches and online banking. Those who go in branch are often looking for advice or for a solution to a problem while those who use online banking often want to make transfers or check their balance.

'The last bank in town'

A ‘last bank in town’ protocol was signed in March this year by high street banks, consumer groups and the Government promising to work with communities to minimise the impact of branch closures.

It expands on a voluntary agreement to assist the most vulnerable if their town becomes bank-free. Potential solutions include 'banks on wheels' or offering services through the Post Office’s 11,500 UK branches.

The main problem here is there’s no punishment for banks if they do decide to shut so there’s not a great deal to stop them from moving off the high street.

Do you think bank branches are still important? What can be done to help those without a branch? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments box below.

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