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TSB to close 164 branches and cut almost 1,000 jobs

Michael O'Dwyer
·3-min read
TSB branch
TSB branch

TSB was accused of throwing staff “on the scrap heap” as it announced plans to axe another 164 branches and cut 969 jobs in a fresh blow to the battered high street. 

The purge means TSB will shut 246 branches in 2020 and 2021 – cutting total numbers by 46pc in just two years.

These closures are the latest in a string of cutbacks across the industry as banks increase their focus on digital banking and battle low interest rates, which have squeezed profit margins. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift to online and mobile banking.

TSB said almost 4,000 people a day are registering for its mobile banking app, two years after an IT meltdown in 2018 locked about 1.9 million customers out of their accounts and triggered the departure of then-boss Paul Pester.

Debbie Crosbie, chief executive of TSB, said: “Closing any of our branches is never an easy decision, but our customers are banking differently, with a marked shift to digital banking.”

She said the cuts will help the Spanish-owned lender reach the right balance between branches and digital platforms.  TSB said it remains committed to its bricks and mortar network, which is the seventh largest in Britain.

But unions warned the closures will vulnerable and elderly people unable to access basic financial services, as well as punching holes in town and village high streets with a devastating effect on footfall.

Mark Brown, general secretary of the TBU union, said: "To throw hardworking staff on the scrap heap in the middle of a pandemic and against the backdrop of the worst financial crisis in a generation is nothing short of scandalous.” 

About 55 UK bank and building society branches have shut every month since 2015, according to figures from consumer group Which?. 

TSB expects most of the latest 969 job cuts to be made through voluntary redundancies but unions called on the bank to review the decision. 

TSB timeline
TSB timeline

When the TSB brand returned to the high street in 2013 after a 20-year absence - after the bank was spun out of Lloyds - bosses said that many competitors were "savagely cutting branches and taking services away from communities. We are not in that business”.

Launching the Spanish-owned lender’s “Do What Matters Plan” at the end of July, TSB chief executive Debbie Crosbie said the bank “needs to deliver more than just commercial performance”. 

Unions demanded that TSB show social responsibility towards customers who rely on their local branches. 

Dominic Hook, of union Unite, said: "The financial services industry has a social responsibility not to walk away from its local customers, who continue to need access to banking in bank branches."

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, called for new laws protecting access to cash to avoid millions of consumers being cut adrift from the financial system. 

Robin Bulloch, TSB’s customer banking director, vowed to handle he shift towards digital sensitively and pragmatically, and added the bank is taking steps to support vulnerable customers and those in rural locations.

TSB said the locations of branch closures would be announced later on Wednesday and listed on its website