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Royal Bank of Scotland will respond to the “dramatic shift” in retail banking by closing more than 150 local bank branches with the likely loss of hundreds of jobs, it announced today.

The bank said it took the decision “after careful consideration of a wide range of factors including regular branch usage and the alternative ways our customers can bank with us”. Thirty RBS branches will be affected, along with 128 branches of its NatWest subsidiary.

Simple transactions undertaken in NatWest and RBS branches have fallen by 43 per cent since 2010. Online and mobile transactions increased by more than 400 per cent over the same period.

RBS, which is 73 per cent owned by the British taxpayer, said it will create new roles for “community bankers” and technology experts to provide support to customers who will be affected by the closures, particularly in rural areas.

UK banks have already closed more than 1,000 local branches over the last two years in an effort to cut costs, including 191 at RBS. Last month the bank announced plans to make a further £750m of cost savings this year, as it looks to return to profit for the first time since the financial crisis.

A spokesperson for RBS said:

As customers change the way they bank with us, we must change the way we serve them. The role of the branch is fast moving to a centre for advice, away from basic transactions. While the branch will still be a core part of our offering to customers, inevitably some branches will have to close. We know that some of our customers prefer to do their everyday banking face to face and we will help them with the alternative ways to bank in their community through our community bankers and NatWest or Royal Bank of Scotland TechXperts.

Photo: PA

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