'Underhand tactics used by some of Britain’s biggest banks to justify thousands of branch closures can be revealed today.
A Daily Mail investigation found Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland are downplaying how many people used the branches they wanted to shut.
Both banks, which were bailed out by taxpayers during the financial crisis, routinely publish figures showing that only a tiny number of regular weekly customers still use branches facing the axe.
But they use highly restrictive criteria that class a customer as being ‘regular’ only if they go into a branch as many as 48 weeks in a year.
It means customers who visit their local branch once a fortnight, or who usually use it weekly but go on holiday several times a year, are left out of the calculations.
Last year, Lloyds and RBS shut 439 outlets between them – around an eighth of their networks – and they are axing at least 519 more this year.
Last night, campaigners accused the banks of trying to mask the truth about the importance of branches to justify savage cuts depriving rural communities of vital services.
Lib Dem leader and former business secretary Sir Vince Cable said: ‘These criteria are absurdly restrictive and suggest the banks are very much on a mission to get rid of branches as quickly as possible.
‘Quite apart from the rights and wrongs of closures, it does smack of dishonesty. If you’re a small business you may not go in every week, but you will still need to go in for a serious discussion about a loan.’ When they shut a branch, banks must reveal how many customers rely on it under industry rules. They typically say the branches have only a handful of regular customers and are no longer cost-effective.'
Read more: Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland bosses are playing down customer numbers to justify branch closures, shocking investigation finds
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