NatWest to close 32 branches as more customers move online

Taxpayer owned bank confirms 21 NatWest and 11 RBS outlets to go with most staff redeployed

NatWest has become the first bank in 2022 to announce it will close some of its outlets as customers shun branches for mobile banking.

The high street lender will shut 32 branches across its NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland brands in England and Wales over the next year.

The bank, which is majority owned by the taxpayer, said the closures were a result of customers shifting to mobile and online banking “because it is faster and easier for people to manage their financial lives”. It confirmed 21 of the closures would be NatWest branches, and 11 of them RBS.

Planned closures include the RBS branch in NatWest’s headquarters in Bishopsgate, in the heart of the City of London.

Most staff will be moved to other branches, but 12 jobs will be at risk.

A report by the banking trade body UK Finance underlined the rapid pace of change in spending habits during the pandemic, with more people retreating from cash and opting for phones and computers to pay for goods and services online.

NatWest’s move may fuel concerns about millions of people being left behind as the shift to a cashless society speeds up. About 1.2 million consumers mainly used cash for their day-to-day spending during 2020, down from 2.1 million people in 2019.

Addressing concerns about how the closures will impact groups who do not use digital services, the bank said: “We take our responsibility seriously to support the people who face challenges in moving online, so we are investing to provide them with support and alternatives that work for them.”

NatWest will contact vulnerable customers before the closures to discuss alternative payment methods, a spokesperson said, alongside the rollout of a new nationwide postal cash delivery service.

Sign up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk

The round of cuts comes after consumer organisation Citizens Advice revealed more than 200 post offices have closed in the past two years – the equivalent of two a week – leaving “huge gaps” in communities that depend on them for essential tasks such as paying bills. Older and disabled people, carers, and people who do not use the internet are also disproportionately affected, the report said.

The government owns about 52% of NatWest after spending £45bn bailing out the lender 13 years ago. It plans to sell a stake over the next year in a trading plan that will return the bank to majority private ownership.

Analysts predict the bank’s operating profit before tax in 2021, to be announced on Friday, will be just above £4bn.


Georgina Quach

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
NatWest to close another 23 branches in England and Wales
High street banks have now announced 87 closures so far this year – see the full list of NatWest closures

Joe Middleton and agencies

26, Jan, 2023 @1:39 PM

Article image
NatWest lets customers set own limit for online transfers
Default limit will be cut to £5,000 a day in attempt to stop pandemic-fuelled rise in payment scams

Hilary Osborne

13, May, 2021 @4:53 PM

Article image
NatWest and Lloyds to axe a further 81 bank branches
Banks say customers are rejecting traditional counter services in favour of online banking

Rupert Jones

30, Mar, 2023 @4:17 PM

Article image
NatWest to close another 43 branches across UK
Move follows axing of 32 in February as ‘most of our customers are shifting to mobile and online banking’

Rupert Jones

13, Oct, 2022 @5:21 PM

Article image
NatWest customers say accounts were closed after they applied for coronavirus loans
Small business say funds were blocked after applying for government-backed scheme

Rupert Jones

26, Jul, 2020 @2:51 PM

Article image
NatWest reports 40% profit jump as bank refers customers to debt experts
Strong first-quarter results come as group warns of ‘uncertain’ economy because of cost of living crisis

Kalyeena Makortoff Banking correspondent

29, Apr, 2022 @2:34 PM

Article image
NatWest to move HQ to London if Scotland votes for independence
Chief executive confirms potential departure of Edinburgh-based bank after almost 300 years

Kalyeena Makortoff Banking correspondent

29, Apr, 2021 @2:34 PM

Article image
RBS and NatWest to close 158 branches as customers go digital
Up to 362 jobs could go, prompting union to accuse bank of turning its back on loyal communities

Rupert Jones

23, Mar, 2017 @6:05 PM

Article image
NatWest profits as customers lose out | Brief letters
Letters: Bank closures | Johnson’s manor | Oat cuisine | Cursing children | First hayfever of spring

19, Feb, 2023 @5:08 PM

Article image
NatWest pushed to £1.3bn loss by coronavirus crisis
Banking group puts aside £2.1bn to cover bad debts and may be forced to take a writedown

Kalyeena Makortoff Banking correspondent

31, Jul, 2020 @7:19 AM