Just three banks remain open in Reading West, and Reading East have lost a dozen since 2015, according to new figures.

Analysis from consumer champion Which? has shown a sharp decline in the number of bank branches open in areas across much of the UK, compared to seven years ago.

According to figures up to the end of April, seven banks have been shuttered in Reading West since the start of 2015.

Another 12 have closed in Reading East, leaving 14 branches in the area.

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Separate figures from LINK, a cash machine network, show there has also been a decline in the number of free-to-use ATMs across the UK in recent years.

Their data shows that between the start of 2018 and early March this year, the number of ATMs in Reading West dropped from 51 to 45, while in Reading East they dropped from 140 to 103.

The increasing use of online banking and contactless payments have led to concerns some will be left behind, or unable to access key services.

Which? chief executive, Anabel Hoult, said: “While the pandemic has accelerated the move to digital payments for many consumers, many are not yet ready to make that switch and require protection from an avalanche of ATM and bank branch closures that have left the UK’s cash system at risk of collapse.”

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A bill to protect access to cash was announced as part of the Queen’s Speech in May.

The Treasury says the new legislation will ensure “continued access to withdrawal and deposit facilities across the UK”.

Economic secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, said: “We know that access to cash is still vital for many people, especially those in vulnerable groups.

“We promised we would protect it, and through this bill we are delivering on that promise.”

Full details on what will be included are yet to be published.