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Threat to 400 jobs as HSBC slashes IT staff and shuts another 62 branches

Nearly 400 jobs are at risk after HSBC revealed plans to slash its IT staff and make swingeing cuts to its branch network.

The high street lender said it would shut a further 62 bank branches on top of the 55 closures announced last year, meaning a total of 117 HSBC branches will close in 2017.

The move will put up to 180 jobs under threat and leave the banking giant with 625 branches across the UK.

It came as the lender also confirmed that 204 IT jobs could be lost as part of plans to find "significant cost savings" by the end of this year.

HSBC said it moved to cut the branch network after seeing a sharp rise in the number of customers using online banking as opposed to over-the-counter services.

Francesca McDonagh, HSBC head of retail banking and wealth management for UK and Europe, said customers impacted by the cuts would be told about the alternative ways to bank with HSBC.

"More customers are using mobile and internet banking than ever before, innovation such as Touch and Voice ID has proved extremely popular, and fewer people are using branches.

"The decision to close these branches ensures a more sustainable branch network for the future as we continue to invest in our digital platforms and our people."

The bank said the number of customers using HSBC branches has dropped by nearly 40% in the past five years.

It said 97% of cash withdrawals were done through an ATM and 93% of customer contact was made via the telephone, internet or smartphone.

More than 90% of its interactions with customers now came through digital - an 80% rise on last year, HSBC added.

Unite union national officer Dominic Hook has called on the banking industry to rethink "such branch-culling exercises".

"Today is a dark day for hundreds of HSBC staff who will arrive at work to be told that they could lose their job as their branch closes or their IT role is cut.

"Unite is deeply concerned that this large branch closure programme will be devastating not only for staff but also for the loyal HSBC customers who will lose their community branch."

In November, HSBC saw third-quarter pre-tax profits tumble 86% as it stomached a hefty hit from the disposal of its Brazilian business.

The banking giant said reported pre-tax profits hit 843 million US dollars (£678 million) in the three months to the end of September, down from 6.097 billion US dollars (£4.905 billion) over the period in 2015.

Antonio Simoes, chief executive of HSBC Bank, said the branch cuts would draw a line under the bank's branch restructuring programme.

"We now feel we have the right branch network that complements the other ways in which customers now choose to interact with us," he added.

Unite revealed last week that Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank is to close 79 branches with the loss of more than 400 jobs.

It comes as banks remain embroiled in a row over free-to-use cash machines, which could lead to customers being charged to withdraw money.

HSBC said it would try to redeploy staff impacted by the branch closures.

On the IT jobs, a bank spokesman said: "HSBC has stated that it intends to find significant cost savings by the end of 2017, as part of its ongoing strategy to ensure the bank remains efficient and competitive."

The Post Office also announced on Tuesday that m ore people and businesses will be able to do their everyday banking with the organisation under a new agreement.

It said new, simplified arrangements with the banking industry mean 99% of UK personal banking customers can do their day-to-day banking at the Post Office, up from 95% previously.

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