(In Jan. 29 story, corrects reference to branch closures, from two years to four in paragraph 6)
* Closures to cut costs as customers shift online
* Banks in Britain slashing branches in recent years
* Closures draw heat from lawmakers, customers
By Iain Withers and Lawrence White
LONDON, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Britain’s Lloyds Banking Group is planning to close a further 56 branches this year, banking union Accord said on Wednesday, in a further cost-cutting drive as customers shift online.
The planned closures include 31 Lloyds, 10 Halifax and 15 Bank of Scotland branded branches, the union said. The branches are expected to be shuttered before October.
A spokesman for Lloyds confirmed the bank is planning to close a number of branches before October, without saying how many.
“This is in response to changing customer behaviours and the reduced number of transactions being made in branches,” the spokesman said.
The closures are expected to result in under 80 job losses with many staff likely to be redeployed, the union added.
Lloyds has shut 569 branches over the past four years, according to consumer group Which? that tracks branch closures.
Britain’s banks have made deep cuts to their branch networks in recent years, sparking a backlash from politicians and small business groups criticising the cuts for harming local businesses and vulnerable customers.
Banks argue that the closures are necessary to cut costs and are in response to increasing customer demand for online and mobile banking services. (Reporting by Iain Withers and Lawrence White)