According to data from the Keeping Digital Foundation, the high street has lost 40% of banks and building societies. That's 40% less branches for people to pop in and say "Hi" to! 
In a recent study, the Keeping Digital Foundation has brought to light a 40% decrease in the number of banks and building societies across the United Kingdom in the past 10 years (a fall from 13,345 branches to just 8,060 branches across the country). While the digital shift in the financial sector offers numerous benefits, it comes with its set of challenges. One of the most pressing concerns highlighted by the foundation is the need for accessible spaces where residents, particularly those lacking digital skills, can access essential banking services. This is crucial as 1 in 5 adults in the UK currently lack the digital skills needed to navigate banking apps, with 1 in 20 households unable to access the internet for these services. 
The wave of digital transformation in the banking sector has undeniably ushered in unprecedented convenience and efficiency. However, this transition has also left behind a significant portion of the population that faces barriers to accessing digital financial services. 
A staggering 1 in 5 adults in the UK lack the digital skills required to use banking apps effectively. For many, the complexity of digital interfaces and fear of technology pose significant obstacles to embracing online banking. 
In addition to the digital skills gap, 1 in 20 households in the UK struggles with a lack of internet access, making it impossible for them to log on to banking apps. This digital divide exacerbates existing social and economic inequalities, leaving some communities at a disadvantage. 
Luke Castle, founder of the Keeping Digital Foundation, commented: 
"There is an urgent need for the UK Government to address these challenges, with the Keeping Digital Foundation calling for a comprehensive strategy to bridge the digital divide and ensure inclusive access to essential financial services. Where branch closures are inevitable, it's important that banks and local councils establish community-based financial spaces equipped with digital resources and assistance, where individuals lacking digital skills can receive guidance and support to access online banking services. These need to be more than just a Post Office branch where every bank may not be supported. 
"We need to encourage collaboration between banks, local governments, and community organisations just like ourselves to create outreach programs that provide digital literacy support and facilitate access to online banking services. Banks also need to ensure their services are in Plain English, alongside the development of user-friendly banking apps and digital platforms that cater to individuals with varying levels of digital literacy, ensuring that technology is an enabler rather than a barrier. 
"The UK Government is not taking the digital divide seriously, despite worrying reports being issued by the House of Lords. We need to be working closely with policymakers to develop and implement policies that prioritise digital inclusivity, ensuring that no community is left behind in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. We'd encourage the UK Government to prioritise these pressing concerns for local communities - simply, they are not doing enough." 
As we navigate the digital transformation in the banking sector, it is crucial to address the challenges faced by individuals and communities without the necessary digital skills or internet access. Our call for inclusive financial spaces serves as a timely reminder that progress should not come at the cost of leaving vulnerable residents behind. 

Nobody wants an empty high street 

Empty window displays and turned off lights makes up for around 15% of the UK's high streets, highlighting the stark picture of the ongoing economic challenges faced by local communities across the country. This trend has been exacerbated by the increasing closures of traditional banks. As banks shutter their branches, not only does it strip communities of essential financial services, but it also leaves behind empty commercial spaces that were once pillars of local economic activity. 

Which bank has shut the most branches on our high streets? 

Branches closed since 2015 
Virgin Money 
The Co-operative Bank 
Bank of Scotland 
Ulster Bank 
M&S Bank 
Bank of Ireland 
First Trust 
Metro Bank 
Virgin Money includes banks that used previous brand names including Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank 
Barclays is the individual bank that has shuttered the most branches, with 1,140 branches now closed. 
Whilst M&S only ranks 14th for the most branches shut, it's worth noting that M&S Bank closed all its in-store branches at the end of summer 2021 when it stopped offering M&S Bank current accounts. 
Additionally, Nationwide Building Society actually has the most branches still open across the UK (that's 605 branches still open to the public). Nationwide has also promised to not leave any town or city in which a branch is still open until at least 2026 - which the Keeping Digital Foundation highly praises! 

Why does a digital inclusion charitable organisation care so much about bank closures... we hear you ask? 

The Keeping Digital Foundation wasn't formed to persuade everyone to go online. Whilst we are here to help residents understand how digital technology can benefit them, and to be able to gain the skills they need to make the most of it and get connected, we also respect the right of a resident to not want to get online. 
We are a voice for our residents, and we understand the need for in-person support - and we believe branches can form a huge part in building confidence when it comes to banking. Our Digital Cafes across York also act as community hubs where residents can come down for face-to-face support, whether they just want a natter or want to take the plunge and learn how to download their mobile banking app. Our volunteers are here to support them, no matter what. 

Hi Street? Pop into one of our Digital Cafes and say hello to a friendly volunteer 

Our Digital Cafes are popping up across the city of York, providing a space for York residents to get dedicated support in getting online. 
Hosted in a 2 hour session, residents can come down for a warm drink and to ask any questions (and bring along any devices). 
Our volunteers are here to help you get online, from setting up a smart phone to signing up to the NHS app or York Council website. 
At selected Digital Cafes across the city of York, the Keeping Digital Foundation are providing free digital workshops provided by our dedicated volunteers. 
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