Santander has announced the closure of 139 small outlets licensed to provide services under the bank’s branding.

The bank said it was "consolidating its retail operations" and that the "financial challenges in maintaining the third party network" were too great to justify continuing to operate it.

Following the move the UK challenger bank has been accused of disadvantaging the UK’s small communities with limited access to branches.

Derek French from the Campaign for Community Banking Services said: "Santander’s previous good record is being smashed by this decision to disadvantage many smaller communities which rely on these outlets.

"These closures cause horrendous problems for many older or vulnerable people who rely on branches as a way of doing their banking."

Steve Pateman, head of UK banking at Santander defended the decision, saying: "With a simplified and enhanced product range, we are offering our customers great value every day, and with enhancements in mobile banking, internet capability and the improvements we have made to our proprietary branches, we have a distribution capability that allows our customers to bank with us, in the way they want, when they want.

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"Part of enabling customers to choose how they deal with us, is making sure that all of our retail branches offer full banking.

"Consolidating our operations, following today’s announcement, is a vital next step for Santander, allowing us to concentrate on further enhancements and investment in, our proprietary branch network, including branch openings and refurbishments."

The banking outlets due to close are owned by third party agencies that include insurance brokers, accountants and estate agents.


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