Royal Bank of Scotland and Natwest county branches will remain open

Lloyds Banking Group PLC

It said that around 1,000 jobs will be affected by the closures, but that it hopes to save some of those positions by redeploying staff.

An RBS spokesman said: "More and more of our customers are choosing to do their everyday banking online or on mobile". One in five RBS customers only use its services digitally.

However, union Unite described the move as a "betrayal" and ripped into the Government for allowing the closures to proceed.

RBS, which is 71 per cent taxpayer-owned after a government bailout at the height of the financial crisis a decade ago, has nearly 19 million customers across the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Unite national officer Rob MacGregor said: "The Royal Bank of Scotland has chose to decimate its bank branch network".

It is the third bank this week to announce a swathe of branch closures and staff reductions, following...

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"A decade of slashing jobs has done nothing to boost morale, increase consumer confidence or improve the bank's performance".

He added: "This is not the Royal Bank for Scotland. The reality is they may end up with nowhere to turn for face-to-face help with financial matters", she said. If they are shut, 158 jobs would be lost.

Mr Haulard told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: "We will most likely change banks now because although we can bank online we prefer to do it in person because we fear being hacked and our money being taken".

A Treasury spokeswoman said: "The decision to open and close branches is a commercial decision taken by the management team of each bank".

The closures have been blamed on a rise in people banking online or via their mobile phones. When it reports its results in February, the bank is expected to admit it will have incurred 10 years of full-year losses since its taxpayer bailout in 2008.

The group is also still plagued by conduct charges dating back to the financial crisis, and it could still face action from the UK's financial watchdog over its treatment of small businesses by its Global Restructuring Group (GRG). Earlier this year nine branches of RBS subsidiary Ulster Bank closed across Northern Ireland.

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