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Royal Bank of Scotland to axe a further 54 branches

RBS is closing branches Photo: PA Wire/PA Images

Royal Bank of Scotland has been branded “utterly disgusting” after announcing plans to swing the axe on another 54 branches, resulting in 258 job losses.

The lender, still 62% owned by the taxpayer, said the move was linked to it not having to sell its Williams & Glyn business.

As a result, the group has branches close to each other and is now seeking to reduce overlap.

The latest wave of closures comes on top of the 162 branches that were earmarked for closure in January.

The latest announcement raised concerns that many more communities will be left without a branch. Unions described the decision as a hammer blow to the disabled and elderly.

An RBS spokesman said: “We have reviewed our overall branch footprint in England and Wales and have made the difficult decision to close 54 Royal Bank of Scotland branches. Customers of Royal Bank of Scotland in England and Wales will be able to use NatWest branches and local post offices for their everyday banking needs.”

Rob MacGregor, of union Unite, said: “It is utterly disgusting that Royal Bank of Scotland has the audacity to announce that yet more important local bank branches will permanently close their doors.

“This announcement heaps further misery on communities across England and Wales that have already seen the demise of local banking services as branches that were signposted by the bank earlier in 2018 as an alternative for customers whose branches were closing, now suffering a similar fate.

“The disabled, elderly and many local businesses will today be deeply disappointed that their bank has chosen to withdraw from their community and no longer provide them with the access to banking services which we all deserve.”

Chief executive of RBS Ross McEwan Credit: PA

Last year, RBS avoided the compulsory sale of Williams & Glyn, which had been ordered by regulators as part of the bank’s obligations under state aid rules following its £45 billion Government bailout at the height of the financial crisis.

Instead, RBS will put up money to be shared among so-called “challenger banks” to help them better compete with bigger players.

RBS also pointed out that since 2014, branch transactions across its English and Welsh operations are down 30%, while there has been a 53% increase in the number of customers using mobile banking, and mobile transactions have increased by 74%.

“We will now focus on investing in our Royal Bank network in England and Wales to make sure customers have a consistent range of products and services wherever they bank, be it Scotland, England or Wales,” the lender’s spokesman added.