Royal Bank of Scotland has been branded “utterly disgusting” after announcing plans to swing the axe on another 54 branches, resulting in 258 job losses.
The lender, still 62% owned by the taxpayer, said the move was linked to it not having to sell its Williams & Glyn business.
As a result, the group has branches in close proximity to each other and is seeking to reduce overlap.
An RBS spokesman said: “As we are no longer launching Williams & Glyn as a challenger bank we now have two branch networks operating in close proximity to each other in England and Wales – NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland.
“As a result we have reviewed our overall branch footprint in England and Wales and have made the difficult decision to close 54 Royal Bank of Scotland branches. Customers of Royal Bank of Scotland in England and Wales will be able to use NatWest branches and local post offices for their everyday banking needs.”
The latest wave of closures comes on top of the closing of 162 branches announced earlier this year, which resulted in 792 job losses.
Unions reacted with fury to the news, describing the decision as a hammer blow to the disabled and elderly.
Rob MacGregor, of union Unite, said: “It is utterly disgusting that Royal Bank of Scotland has the audacity to announce that yet more important local bank branches will permanently close their doors.
“This announcement heaps further misery on communities across England and Wales that have already seen the demise of local banking services as branches that were signposted by the bank earlier in 2018 as an alternative for customers whose branches were closing, now suffering a similar fate.
“The disabled, elderly and many local businesses will today be deeply disappointed that their bank has chosen to withdraw from their community and no longer provide them with the access to banking services which we all deserve.”
Instead, RBS will put up money to be shared among so-called “challenger banks” to help them better compete with bigger players.
The closures will come as RBS reintegrates Williams & Glyn, including its branch network, back into the core bank.
RBS also pointed out that since 2014, branch transactions across its English and Welsh operations are down 30%, while there has been a 53% increase in the number of customers using mobile banking, and mobile transactions have increased by 74%.
“We will now focus on investing in our Royal Bank network in England and Wales to make sure customers have a consistent range of products and services wherever they bank, be it Scotland, England or Wales,” the lender’s spokesman added.