Up to a million could be ‘bankless’ in months, research finds

Nearly a million customers across the UK are at risk of having no major bank branch in their local area in a matter of months, according to a new study on the state of banking in the UK.

The bank closures study, by AI and analytics leader SAS, compared the number of bank branches open in 2020 across all local constituencies in the UK to the number closed over the last three years, to understand the annual bank closure rate.

SAS looked at seven of the largest banks in the UK, to discover that those in Ross, Skye and Lochaber in Scotland, Copeland, Central Devon and Gainsborough are at risk of having zero in-person branches to go to in the next few months, assuming the current rate of closures continue.

The study found that 80 constituencies have lost more than 80% of their banks in the last three years, with an annual bank loss rate of more than 25%.

The average constituency across the UK saw 51% of its banks close in the last three years, with a branch loss rate of 17.3%.

Customers in more metropolitan areas such as Leeds East, Gateshead, Cardiff West and Bristol South are also at risk of being without an in-person branch in the next year if closures maintain their current trajectory, according to SAS research. There are also a number of metropolitan areas holding onto one branch, including Derby North, Sheffield Hallam, Kingston upon Hull north and Dagenham and Rainham. 

The 10 areas most likely to be ‘bankless’ in 2024:

1 - Ross, Skye and Lochaber, Scotland (18,819 people per branch)
2 - Argyll and Bute, Scotland (8,626 people per branch)
3 - Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, Scotland (800 people per branch)
4 - Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, Scotland (188 people per branch)
5 - Copeland, England (39,000 people per branch)
6 - South Down, England (123,121 people per branch)
7 - North Ayrshire and Arran, Scotland (20,320 people per branch)
8 - Central Devon, England (47,612 people per branch)
9 - Tewkesbury, England (112,255 people per branch)
10 - Gainsborough, England (98,796 people per branch)

Louise Potts, Head of Banking, Customer Advisory at SAS UK, said:

“Online banking has revolutionised personal finance, making it easier for customers to carry out day-to-day transactions whatever their location. Analytics and AI has also personalised the online experience, improved responsiveness and helped with fraud prevention, but it’s not always a viable option for everyone. In-person banking services provide crucial services if you’re struggling to access the internet or find a solution online."

“Banking hubs have become a new alternative for those who don’t have access to a traditional branch. Owned by Cash Access UK and run by the Post Office, banking hubs provide access to a number of high street banks, giving people the option to deposit, transfer and withdraw money from most major banks - all under one roof."

“Ultimately, everyone needs access to banking. Our research highlights the areas that may need support, whether it be technological advancements to improve internet access, or consideration for the opening of a new banking hub.”

See the full study here.


SAS looked at seven of the largest banks in the UK, and used previous research to understand how many branches were located in each constituency in 2020.

It then analysed the number of branches currently located in each constituency, to determine the rate at which branches closed over that period.

It also took population data from the 2021 Census.

Data correct as of September 2023.

Up to a million could be ‘bankless’ in months, research finds

About SAS

SAS is a global leader in AI and analytics software, including industry-specific solutions. SAS helps organisations transform data into trusted decisions faster by providing knowledge in the moments that matter. SAS gives you THE POWER TO KNOW®.

SAS and all other SAS Institute Inc. product or service names are registered trademarks or trademarks of SAS Institute Inc. in the USA and other countries. ® indicates USA registration. Other brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies. Copyright © 2023 SAS Institute Inc. All rights reserved.

Editorial contacts:

Visit the SAS News Room: