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

The bank, formerly known as RBS, said the cuts would be made through voluntary redundancies and there would be no branch closures.

The cuts are part of longer term plan to adapt as more people bank online.

But the group has seen the trend accelerate in lockdown as people have stayed away from high streets and used branches less.

A Natwest spokesman 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 lockdown as it had seen a steady decline in branch transactions in recent years.

It was also in the midst of a £250m cost-cutting drive before the pandemic hit.

However, Natwest has seen more of its customers turn to online banking since March as its branches have had to reduce their opening hours or shut temporarily.

Separately, it said it would close its Regents House office in London, which has space for 2,500 workers.

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

Rising costs

Natwest is under pressure to push on with its cost-cutting plans amid fears it could face billions of pounds worth of bad loans due to the pandemic.

Like other lenders, it has warned many of its customers could default 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.

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