Banks have failed to engage with communities over branch closures, MSPs warn

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 3 July 2018 in News

The Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee found that branch closures were hitting the most vulnerable, with MSPs warning that alternative options to face-to-face banking have not been adequate

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A lack of engagement with local communities over branch closures has left people in Scotland feeling abandoned by banks, MSPs have warned.

In a new report, the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee found that branch closures were hitting the most vulnerable, with MSPs warning that alternative options to face-to-face banking have not been adequate.

The report also found that banks failed to consult with businesses and communities before closing branches.

With more than a third of Scotland's bank branches having closed since 2010, the committee urged the Scottish Government to call a banking summit aimed at finding solutions to community concerns.

Committee convener Gordon Lindhurst said: “There has been significant public concern about the extent of Scottish bank branch closures. After hearing from a wide range of people during the course of the committee inquiry, we are in no doubt that the loss of branches has had a negative impact on communities and businesses across Scotland.

“People told us that they feel abandoned by the banks following branch closures with alternatives offered by the banks often not meeting their needs. It is vital that people have access to cash and face-to-face banking services. The committee believes that banks must engage with people and businesses on their needs before deciding to close a branch. The UK Government should urgently carry out a full study into the effects on communities.”

The report recommended replacing the Access to Banking Standard with a statutory model which includes the requirement to consult before a decision is made to close a branch.

MSPs called on the UK Government to carry out a study into banking services in Scotland to ensure universal banking provision, while calling for future RBS bank closures to be put on hold until more work can be done to assess the impact of reduced services.

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