Unions blast Barclays over speculation of imminent cut in branches

Barclays is also poised to axe 400 investment bank jobs on top of the 1700 it announced a year ago in a bid to slash costs

Trade unions and consumer groups have reacted angrily to reports that Barclays could close up to a quarter of its 1600 branches over the next few years.

Dominic Hook, national officer for the Unite union, said: "Barclays must not embark on this reckless rush to close branches and fill others with machines instead of staff. There will be a significant cost to customer service in Barclays. Unite has called on Barclays to halt their closure plan."

Barclays has issued a statement saying it has no intention to make a "significant reduction" of its branch network, after reports suggested it would replace 400 sites by smaller outlets inside Asda supermarkets, alongside its full year results in two weeks time.

The lender admitted that "there will be fewer traditional branches" but insisted that its network is still an important of its banking service.

A spokesperson said: "We have consistently been clear that, over time, there will be fewer traditional branches as we move to provide banking services to customers where and when they find it most convenient.

"This will be driven by the needs of our customers and, therefore, there is not a target for a number of branches to be closed, nor a time frame for such action."

Barclays to close 400 branches - and replace them with smaller outlets in Asda supermarkets  

Barclays also said the results, on 11 February, will include additional charges against costs of £220 million and and again against income of £110 million pounds in its investment bank, “relating to litigation and regulatory penalties.”

Derek French, director of the Campaign for Community Banking, believes banks should seriously look at sharing branches.

He said:  "It is not too late for government to step in and tell the industry they must have an independent and objective appraisal of branch sharing."

Barclays is also poised to get rid of another 400 investment bankers, on top of the 1700 it announced a year ago, as part of Jenkins’ cost-cutting regime.

The news came as Deutsche Bank, which employs 8500 people in the UK, revealed  it cut investment bankers’ pay by 23 per cent last year from a total  1.3 billion (£1.07 billion) to 1 billion.

Speculation over Barclays' branches follows an announcement yesterday by Lloyds Banking Group of 1,080 job losses across its retail, risk, operations and commercial banking divisions, and plans to outsource more than 300 roles, as part of a continuing overhaul of the business.

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