Royal Bank of Scotland is to cut around 792 jobs and close 162 branches following a review of its branch network in England and Wales, the lender said today. 

RBS, which owns Ulster Bank, is more than 70% owned by the British taxpayer following a 2007 bailout.

The bank said the redundancies and closures were necessary because many of its branches were too close to one another - within 0.6 and 2.5 miles.

Changing consumer behaviours have also seen footfall numbers plummet. 

"We realise this is difficult news for our colleagues and we are doing everything we can to support those affected. We will ensure compulsory redundancies are kept to an absolute minimum," the bank said. 

The cuts follow the closure of 259 branches announced in December last year, which resulted in 680 job losses, and similar moves by Britain's biggest mortgage lender Lloyds Banking Group. 

The two banks have cut around 3,600 jobs in the UK since December in a bid to cut costs and digitise their operations in the face of the increasing popularity of financial technology firms and online and telephone banking. 

Employee union Unite criticised the planned closures and cuts, which follow the failed spin off of RBS's Williams & Glyn brand in 2016.

The union said close to 60% of Williams & Glyn branches would be closed in what Unite said represented "shambolically poor management" of the business. 

RBS's announcement to axe branches in December had already prompted fierce criticism from campaigners and lawmakers, forcing the bank to postpone some closures in Scotland. 

The first closures, of 109 branches, will occur in late July and August 2018, with another 53 branches to close in November.