80 West Midlands bank branches cut and ATM numbers dwindle in ‘avalanche’ of closures

Research from Which? revealed the branches had closed down since 2015 with the loss of 259 free cash machines coming since 2018 according to firm LINK.

It comes as industry experts have warned the UK’s cash system is at “risk of collapse” over the “avalanche” of closures which many people aren’t ready for.

A total of 61 bank branches have been axed from Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell and Dudley, with a further 19 in South Staffordshire, Stafford and Stone.

Meanwhile the number of free-to-use machines plummeted from 1,142 to 883 – a loss of 259 since the start of 2018 up until early March this year.

Among those culled are the Lloyds Bank branch in Codsall, which had been there for 80 years but was closed down in 2018 due to reduced footfall.

Other closures include Lloyds Bank in Bull Ring, Sedgley, shut in March this year. Santander closed its branches in the Merry Hill Shopping Center in early 2020.

And the closures are still coming thick and fast, with Lloyds Bank branch in Smethwick’s High Street closing on July 21 this year. HSBC will close its branch in the Merry Hill Shopping Center on July 28.

Which? chief executive Anabel Hoult said: “While the pandemic has accelerated the move to digital payments for many consumers, many are not yet ready to make that switch and require protection from an avalanche of ATM and bank branch closures that have left the UK’s cash system at risk of collapse. “

Almost half of bank branches across the UK have closed since the start of 2015, whilst Link says that over 13,500 free-to-use ATMs have been axed – a quarter of the 54,500 in operation at the start of 2018.

A Bill to protect access to cash was announced as part of the Queen’s Speech in May.

The Treasury says the new legislation will ensure “continued access to withdrawal and deposit facilities across the UK”.

Economic secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, said: “We know that access to cash is still vital for many people, especially those in vulnerable groups.

“We promised we would protect it, and through this bill we are delivering on that promise.”

Full details on what will be included are yet to be published.

Recent research by the Royal Society of Arts estimates 10 million people in the UK would struggle in a cashless society. The research suggests the elderly and those in areas with poor mobile or broadband connectivity have suffered most in the move to digital banking.

RSA researcher Mark Hall said: “For millions of people, their relationship with cash is critical to the way they manage their weekly budget.

“It’s vital that the dash to digital doesn’t disenfranchise anyone, especially with the cost-of-living crisis putting such significant strain on family finances right now.”

  • Wolverhampton North East: Three branches closed. Free-to-use ATMs have dropped from 70 to 55.

  • Wolverhampton South East: Three branches closed. Free-to-use ATMs have dropped from 67 to 55.

  • Wolverhampton South West: Nine branches closed. Free-to-use ATMs have dropped from 104 to 79.

  • Walsall North: Three branches closed. Free-to-use ATMs have dropped from 69 to 51.

  • Walsall South: Four branches closed. Free-to-use ATMs have dropped from 112 to 89.

  • Aldridge-Brownhills: Three branches closed. Free-to-use ATMs have dropped from 45 to 37.

  • West Bromwich West: Six branches closed. Free-to-use ATMs have dropped from 77 to 55.

  • West Bromwich East: No branches closed. Free-to-use ATMs have dropped from 91 to 67.

  • Warley: Six branches closed. Free-to-use ATMs have dropped from 65 to 49.

  • Halesowen and Rowley Regis: Eight branches closed. Free-to-use ATMs have dropped from 64 to 45.

  • Dudley North: Five branches closed. Free-to-use ATMs have dropped from 69 to 56.

  • Dudley South: Eight branches closed. Free-to-use ATMs have dropped from 101 to 76.

  • Stourbridge: Three branches closed. Free-to-use ATMs have dropped from 64 to 48.

  • South Staffordshire: Five branches closed. Free-to-use ATMs have dropped from 33 to 28.

  • Stafford: Five branches closed. Free-to-use ATMs have dropped from 75 to 66.

  • Stone: Nine branches closed. Free-to-use ATMs have dropped from 36 to 27.

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