Royal Bank of Scotland to close 162 branches - that's more than half of them (2023)

A failed plan, a bank that never quite existed and a change in the way we bank means RBS has decided to close an astonishing 162 branches - they only have 267 so that's more than half

Royal Bank of Scotland to close 162 branches - that's more than half of them (1)

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RBS are closing branches resulting in hundreds of job losses

Following a review of its branch network in England and Wales, RBS has said it will close an astonishing 162 of them.

The reason? They are too close to NatWest branches and each other.

"The vast majority of branches across the Royal Bank of Scotland in England & Wales are in close proximity to either another Royal Bank of Scotland in England & Wales branch or a NatWest branch," the bank said.

"Customers of Royal Bank of Scotland in England & Wales will be able to use NatWest branches instead for their everyday banking needs," an RBS spokesman added.

"We expect these branch closures to result in around 792 roles being made redundant. We realise this is difficult news for our colleagues and we are doing everything we can to support those affected. We will ensure compulsory redundancies are kept to an absolute minimum.”

A total of 109 branches will close in late July and August 2018. These branches are within 0.6 miles of another Royal Bank of Scotland or NatWest branch, the group said.

A further 53 branches will close in November 2018, all of which are between 0.6 and 2.5 miles of another Royal Bank of Scotland or NatWest branch.

The bank went on to say that as well as branches being near each other, the way people use banks has changed - putting more pressure on high-street services.

"Since 2014, branch transactions across Royal Bank of Scotland in England & Wales are down 30%. During this same period, there has been a 53% increase in the number of customers using mobile banking and mobile transactions have increased by 74%," the RBS spokesman said.

"Calamitously managed" bank

Unions roundly condemned the move, especially as RBS is still 72% owned by the Government.

Unite national officer Rob MacGregor said: “How does a taxpayer funded institution spend £1.8 billion on a failed IT project and in the next breath demolish the much needed local bank branches?

“Today nearly 1,000 employees have finally been told of their dark futures because the bank has been calamitously managed for too long."

They're not alone, either.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), added: “This fresh round of closures will hurt high streets all over the country at a time when thousands of small firms are already struggling.

"When a bank branch goes it means less footfall, less cash in the local economy and less revenue for local small firms as a result."

“If small firms can’t easily deposit takings it makes them targets for theft. Many small business owners have built up relationships with branch personnel that go back years – that’s not something that can be replaced by an app."

Read more

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Royal Bank of Scotland to close 162 branches - that's more than half of them (2)

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Williams & Glyn - the bank that never quite was

For the past few years, the plan had been to take the RBS branches in England and Wales, and spin them off into a new "challenger bank" called Williams & Glyn.

"The Royal Bank of Scotland retail banking business in England & Wales has essentially been run as a standalone bank for around eight years," RBS said.

That plan is now over.

"We are no longer launching Williams & Glyn as a challenger bank, and we now have two branch networks operating in close proximity to each other," the RBS spokesmen said.

"As a result we have had to review our overall branch footprint in England and Wales and we’ve made the difficult decision to close a number of Royal Bank of Scotland branches."

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 £45billion 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.

Others were highly critical of the decision to abandon the project.

“The Williams and Glyn saga rolls on as Royal Bank of Scotland continues with its shambolically poor management of this business," Unite's MacGregor said.

The FSB's Cherry said: “It’s thoroughly disappointing to see RBS using the failed sale of Williams & Glyn as an excuse to further decimate the UK’s bank branch network."

He added: “The £800 million that RBS has put up to avoid the sale of Williams & Glyn needs to be placed in the hands of those that will really make a difference. It was frustrating to see the £45 million of dedicated funding for free branch access removed from the revised RBS package."

You banking options if your branch closes

While many people are happy doing most of their banking online, others aren't.

“As RBS pushes ahead with plans to close yet more bank branches, it’s vital that it ensures all consumers have access to everyday banking services, no matter where they live," Gareth Shaw, Which? Money Expert, said.

"Branch closures are happening at an alarming pace, with almost two thousand having closed since 2015 alone, so communities will rightly be concerned by this latest announcement.

"At a time when changes to the funding of free-to-use ATMs are threatening machines across the UK with closure, consumers must have assurances that they can continue to access the financial services and cash they need.”

The last time it closed branches, RBS told Mirror Money it was "working hard to develop new services" as it shuts people's local branches.

These are the ways it suggested people bank:


  • Mobile app and online banking services for all customers and Bankline for business and commercial customers;
  • 24/7 Webchat for personal customers, Social Media, Telephony and secure text messaging for those times when face to face is not needed;
  • Free-Agent, a free cloud-based accounting software for small businesses, to help our customers keep track of their finances and report their Taxes digitally. It’s easy to use, reduces errors and saves our small business customers valuable time. And with the customer’s permission, we can link it to their business bank account so we can share data for real time conversations about a loan, or another solution to help grow their business.

Face to face banking

  • With the Post Office: by the second half of 2018, 99.7% of all our customers will live within 15 minutes of a branch, a mobile branch or a Post Office location;
  • The Post Office has 11,600 branches across the UK and our customers benefit from longer opening hours - with over 4,000 branches open on Sundays.
  • Mobile branches - the fleet serves more than 603 UK communities each week through 717 stops in towns and villages;
  • Dedicated TechXpert in every branch across the UK who support our customers with their digital banking and safety online;
  • Community Bankers – colleagues who know their local communities and help customers with their individual financial goals and support communities to be safe and secure;
  • Business Growth Enablers to support small business customers by providing specialist advice and with events and training to support their business needs. They put businesses in touch with local experts, across the bank and through their networks in their town or city to help businesses where and when they need it most;
  • Video Banking service allows customers to connect to us wherever they are. Video Bankers can assist in many different ways, in a location most convenient to each customer. Services include full Financial Health Checks, opening accounts and discussing their short-term borrowing needs. This service can be accessed on a mobile or tablet, via a video connection.


  • Customers can self serve through our ATMs, Business Quick Deposit Units & Cash and Deposit Machines;
  • 66% of our branch network will have coin-in facilities and 58% will have ADUs.

Courier service / at your location

  • Cash courier services with our Bank to You and Direct Cash products.
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