A NUMBER of bank branches are set to close as the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Natwest announce they are preparing to close 259 of their branches.

RBS, which owns Natwest, says the closures are due to ever-increasing numbers of people choosing to bank online, making their branches redundant. Over 1,000 jobs are on the line in the closures, which are expected to conclude in mid-2018.

The Langley branch of Natwest, located in Harrow Market, has been confirmed to be one of the branches set to close. Natwest and RBS branches in Windsor and Maidenhead have escaped the cull. 

A spokeswoman for RBS said: "Since 2012, we have seen the way in which people use the NatWest Langley Berks branch change dramatically, with 89 per cent of customers already banking in other ways locally.

"Transactions in NatWest Langley Berks branch have reduced by 54 per cent since 2012, with now only 42 customers visiting the branch on a weekly basis. 67 per cent of customers are now choosing to bank digitally with us on a regular basis instead."

Nationally, RBS said that since 2014 the number of customers using its branches had fallen by over 40 per cent, but mobile banking had increased by 73 per cent over the same period.

The bank also said that the number of people using its banking app had increased to five million users, and one in five used online banking only.

62 RBS and 197 NatWest branches are to be affected. RBS hopes to limit the 1,000 redundancies this move will create by redeploying staff, limiting them to 680.

The government has announced that it is considering plans to re-privatise RBS by offloading two-thirds of the stake the government bought in the company at the height of the financial crisis.

The government stands to lose a considerable sum - almost £26.2 billion - if these plans proceed, as its shares in the bank are now worth considerably less than what the government purchased them for.