The Scottish Government has called for a guaranteed minimum level of service provision
for banking services.
Following the announcement of planned RBS branch closures, Scottish business minister
Paul Wheelhouse, urged the UK Government to take steps to ensure communities, vulnerable
customers and small businesses have access to day-to-day banking services.
In a letter to the Treasury, Mr Wheelhouse wrote: “I am deeply concerned at the Royal
Bank of Scotland’s announcement that they are to make further deep and damaging cuts
to their branch network in Scotland.
“I am sure that you will also have concern at the rate of branch closures at RBS,
and Nat West. Scotland is proud of its banking heritage and has done much to build
the industry globally and RBS has grown due to its ability to rely upon a loyal customer
base here, through good times and bad.”
The RBS cuts affect some of the most remote rural communities with potentially significant
impacts on business customers, local personal customers and visitors, he added.
The worst impact will be felt by vulnerable customers as well as small businesses,
which are the “backbone of the economy, who rely on the services provided by a physical,
local branch presence.”
For many people digital banking is “neither a practical option, nor an option they
are comfortable with.
“For these customers there is an imperative to meet their requirement for access
to physical face-to-face banking services,” he said.
Mr Wheelhouse said: “The UK Government, as the bank’s majority shareholder, in our
view, should use its influence through not agreeing to any closures in locations
where no face-to-face alternatives are in place, and should require the Royal Bank
of Scotland to ensure that practical and sustainable alternative banking services
are put in place before any closures are signed off.
A Treasury spokesperson said: "The decision to open and close branches is a commercial
decision taken by the management team of each bank.
“The government does not intervene in these decisions. But we understand the impact
that closures can have on communities and people's jobs.
“Banks must now give customers as much notice as possible when a branch is closing,
and ensure they are made aware of the options they have locally to continue to access
Scottish Government calls for intervention on banking services