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Natwest branch

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Natwest Group is cutting 550 jobs in branches across the UK and closing one of its remaining offices in London.

It said the cuts would be made entirely through voluntary redundancies and there would be no branch closures.

The job losses are part of a longer term effort to adapt as more customers bank online and cut costs.

But the bank, formerly known as RBS, is also under pressure to cut costs due to the pandemic amid fears it could face billions of pounds worth of bad loans.

A NatWest spokesperson said: “We have to respond to changing customer behaviour and the rising customer demand for digital banking services.

“We have taken the decision to invite applications for voluntary redundancy and will support those colleagues who apply with a comprehensive support package.”

The banking group told the BBC the cuts had been on the cards since before the pandemic as it had seen a steady decline in branch transactions in recent years.

However, it has seen more of its customers turn to online banking during the coronavirus pandemic as people have stayed away from high streets and used physical branches less.

Exacerbating this, many of its branches had reduced their opening hours before lockdown restrictions were eased, while some shut temporarily due to staffing issues.

Separately, Natwest is closing its Regents House office in London, which had space for 2,500 workers.

It said it will reconfigure its offices in Bishopsgate and on the Strand.

Rising costs

Prior to the pandemic, Natwest Group was in the midst of a £250m cost cutting drive, however its financial woes have intensified since March.

Like other lenders, it has warned many of its customers could default on loans this year and has set aside between £3.5bn and £4.5bn to deal with the consequences of the crisis.

It is not the only lender to have announced job cuts in recent months.

TSB has told its cashiers that their jobs will be phased out at the start of 2021, following a steep decline in customers banking in its branches.

Clydesdale Bank, now renamed Virgin Money, is also to shed 300 staff as it closes branches.

HSBC meanwhile has resumed a plan to cut 35,000 jobs worldwide, having paused the plan at the start of the pandemic.