Lloyds faces demands to stop closing branches after profits surge to £3.1bn
Revival: Lloyds profits have surged to £3.1bn
Lloyds is facing demands to stop closing branches after profits surged to £3.1billion as the bank roars back to life.
It saw profits rise 23 per cent in the first six months of 2018 as it finally shrugged off the legacy of the financial crisis and squeezed more cash from customers.
With the Bank of England expected to hike interest rates today, analysts believe this could be just the start of a spectacular renaissance for the lender after its near-collapse and £20.3billion taxpayer bailout in 2008.
But Lloyds is forging ahead with deep cuts to its network – shutting 195 outlets last year with another 98 to close in 2018.
Campaigners said that its surging profits show that cuts have now gone far enough.
Mike Cherry, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: ‘This squeeze on banking services and free access to cash means less footfall on struggling high streets and less cashflow in local economies. The result of which is, inevitably, slower growth.’
Lloyds chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio said he was closing outlets because users are shunning them to bank online.
The lender also came under fire for keeping more interest earned from borrowers rather than passing this cash onto savers.
It only pays an easy access savings rate of 0.2 per cent to new customers, far below inflation.
Last week, the City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority warned it could take aggressive action so that savers get a greater share of their profits.
Lloyds hiked the interim dividend by 7 per cent to 1.07p per share.
The stock rose 1.7 per cent, or 1.03p, to 63.41p.