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Catherine Furze

Your options if your bank including Lloyds, Halifax, NatWest and HSBC is shutting its doors in the North East

The shutters are coming down on banks all over the North East, with 17 branches on the closure list so far this year.

Whitley Bay, in North Tyneside, will have lost three banks by the end of the summer, with the town's Halifax branch closing on June 21, followed by NatWest on July 20. HSBC closed its doors for the last time on May 2. And rural communities in Stanhope and Seahouses are among the neighbourhoods hit by the 228 UK high street bank branches due to close by the end of this year.

Research by Which? last year suggested banks and building societies have closed, or have scheduled to close, a total of 5,579 branches since January 2015. This works out at around 54 branches each month. The banking industry has said that fewer people are using their branches and the pandemic accelerated changes, with many customers learning for the first time how to bank from home. However, critics say vulnerable people who are less confident on the internet will be left without access to services.

Read more: Full list of all banks closing in the North East this year

MP Sharon Hodgson has spoken of her concern that Washington's branch of Barclays in The Galleries shopping centre is closing in July, saying she had been contacted by many constituents who relied on the branch and were worried how they will manage to do their banking.

Ms Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said "While digital poverty remains an issue for a lot of people, I feel the closure of the branch in The Galleries is the wrong decision by Barclays. "They have proposed alternative services in the community, but I am concerned that Barclays' customers in my constituency will lack the appropriate support for those who do not have access to digital banking, and for our residents who require face-to-face support for more complex issues that require an appointment."

Whitley Bay's HSBC closed its doors for the last time on May 2 (Newcastle Chronicle)

A full list of North East closures announced so far this year is:


  • 331 Benton Road, Benton, NE7 7EE - July 17, 2023
  • 14 Sea Road, Fulwell, Sunderland, SR6 9BT - July 20, 2023

  • Station Road, Newburn, NE15 8LS - September 14, 2023


  • 58/60 Front Street, Chester Le Street, DH3 3BD – April 19, 2023
  • 22/24 Park View, Whitley Bay,NE26 2TH – June 21, 2023
  • 58 Beveridge Way, Newton Aycliffe, DL5 4DS - September 6, 2023


  • 18 Park View, Whitley Bay, NE26 2TQ - July 20, 2023


  • 279 Whitley Road, Whitley Bay, NE26 2SW - May 2, 2023
  • 21 Fowler Street, South Shields, NE33 1NW - June 13, 2023
  • 189 High Street, Gosforth, NE3 1HE - July 18, 2023


  • 55 Front Street, Stanhope, Bishop Auckland, DL13 2TU - April 21, 2023
  • 12 Station Street, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, TS12 1AB - June 30, 2023
  • 20 Bondgate Within, Alnwick, NE66 1TF - July 7, 2023
  • 1 Seafield Road, Seahouses, NE68 7SJ - July 14, 2023
  • Unit H, The Galleries, Washington, NE38 7SH - July 21, 2023

  • 74 Front Street, Prudhoe, NE42 5PU - August 8, 2023

  • Westgate, Haltwhistle, NE49 9AG - August 18. 2023

The way we bank has changed dramatically over the past few years, with use of online and mobile rising and fewer people visiting branches. However, some transactions - such as paying in cash or larger cheques or financial advice - cannot be done online. Here we look at what the alternatives are if your bank is closing:

The Post Office

People living in communities where banks have closed are usually pointed to the Post Office as an alternative. The Post Office last year secured a deal with the major high street banks that will ensure customers can continue to access banking services at its 11,500 branches. The agreement means that customers of all the big banks – including small businesses – will be able to use the Post Office to do basic banking.

But Post Office banking services are limited to withdrawing cash from your current account, checking your balance and paying in cash and cheques if you have a paying-in slip from your bank and can wait an extra day or two for them to clear.

The list of what you can’t do is substantially longer, whether transferring money from your account, or seeking advice and making enquiries about other financial products such as savings or mortgages. Banks themselves usually demand that customers call into a local branch for anti-fraud checks, or to make an appointment to discuss more complex matters.

And with more than 200 Post Offices closing in the past two years, according to Citizens Advice, an increasing number of branches are situated inside newsagents, convenience stores and retailers such as WHSmith - and a solitary counter in a corner shop or supermarket isn’t many people’s idea of a private or personal service.

The Revolution bar, on Collingwood Street, Newcastle, was formerly been a branch of Barclays Bank (NEWCASTLE CHRONICLE)

Mobile banking vans

Lloyds Banking Group offers mobile banking vans, which visit local communities and allow you to cash cheques, make deposits and withdrawals, and pay bills. Current areas served are Bellingham, Chopwell, Esh Winning and Sacriston. You can find out more on Lloyds' website.

Some of the services available as part of the mobile branch service are:

  • Cash/cheque deposits.
  • Managing standing orders and direct debits.
  • Paying bills.
  • Sending money outside the UK.
  • Withdrawing cash.

Community bankers

NatWest Group deploys 'Community Bankers' - professional bank staff who travel to areas with no branches and meet customers in shared local spaces, such as libraries, council buildings or leisure centres. Although this is good in theory, there are no signs of this in our region on NatWest's website.

Barclays has a network of Barclays Local locations, usually operasting in locations where a branch has closed, although the services are limiuted as there are no counter or cash services.

Tech support

Many banks offer help to get people feeling comfortable with using mobile and online banking. RBS has a team of TechXperts, based in branches helping people set up online and mobile banking and Barclays runs a similar initiative through its Digital Eagles.

What can you do if you simply want to access a bank branch?

If your branch is shutting, you may want to consider switching to a bank that still has a local branch nearby – and you might even be able to pocket some cash to do so. Bear in mind there's no guarantee that too won't close. Your only other option is to either travel further afield to your new 'local' branch.

While switching can be seen as daunting, the Current Account Switching Service, introduced in 2013, takes away a lot of the pain. All your money, standing orders and direct debits will be transferred to your new bank, and future payments in will also be moved over.

Here’s how the switching service works:

  • Once you’ve chosen a new account, the new bank or building society will ask you to fill in two forms: a current account switch agreement and an instruction to close your old account.
  • This has to be at least seven working days after your new account is opened.
  • All your incoming and outgoing payments will be moved to your new account.
  • You can carry on using your old account up until the day of the switch. Your old account will then be closed.
  • For 36 months any payments into or out of your old account will be automatically redirected to your new account. However, recurring debit card payments are not part of the guarantee.

Are you happy to carry out your banking online? Join in the conversation below

There are also plans for dozens more Banking Hubs across the UK, although none yet for the North East. Hubs operate in a similar way to bank branches, but their facilities are shared, with banks providing staff on rotation so that trained specialists from different banks are available on different days.

Read more:

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