Lloyds Banking Group will go ahead with plans to close 80 branches nationwide, including one in Rye, despite announcing a pre-tax profit of £3.1 billion for the first half of 2018.
The banking giant announced its plans to close, among others, the branch in High Street, Rye, in April as customers switched to online and telephone banking.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) national chairman Mike Cherry said Lloyds Banking Group’s decision will economically ‘hurt high streets all over the country’.
He added: “Thousands of small businesses regularly use branches to deposit and withdraw cash, access advice around new finance and receive in-person support when online banking services crash.
“We’ve lost more than 1,500 branches in the past two years alone – a figure that’s set to rise to 2,000 by the end of this year. On top of that, we’ve lost 1,500 cash points since LINK announced cuts to cash machine funding a few months ago.
“This squeeze on banking services and free access to cash means less footfall on struggling high streets and less cashflow in local economies. The result of which is, inevitably, slower growth.
“More than 90 per cent of our members use online banking.
“There are plenty of occasions, though, when those online services need to be complemented by in-person advice and support.
“We need to remember that over a third of adults, often vulnerable consumers, do not use online banking. A key issue is that banks are under no obligation to publicly consult on branch closures before final decisions are made or invest to improve replacement Post Office services as they leave town. The Access to Banking Standard must be strengthened.”
However, a spokesman for Lloyds Banking Group said for all branch closures the bank ‘adheres to the Access to Banking Standards’.
They added: “We know branches are important to our customers and that is why we are committed to maintaining the UK’s largest branch network.
“We have seen a significant shift from transactions in branches to internet banking and our apps.”
Rye’s Lloyds Bank branch will close in October 2018.
At the time it announced the closures, a Lloyds Bank spokesman said: “We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause and will be speaking to customers about the new mobile branch service, which will be on the road before the branch closes, as well as their nearest alternative branch, which is Hastings.”
It was estimated Lloyds Banking Group’s decision to close 80 branches nationwide would affect more than 1,200 jobs across its branch network and central functions.
However, the group insisted the overall job losses would be 305 as it was creating 925 roles elsewhere in the business. The company previously said it was investing £3 billion in technology and staff training as part of a three-year plan to transform the business.