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RBS chief executive slammed by MPs over branch closures

RBS - PA

RBS chief executive slammed by MPs over branch closures

Scottish MPs criticised RBS chief executive Ross McEwan after he appeared before Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee to explain branch closures in rural areas.

MPs from all parties accused the bank of letting communities down and McEwan of being vague in his answers to questions.

On 1 December last year RBS announced the planned closure of 62 branches of RBS across Scotland, then agreed a moratorium on 10 of them after political pressure.

McEwan said he did recognise that customers were disappointed, but that the closures were commercially necessary.

“Let's be clear, when we look at our customer behaviour the evidence is stark,” he said.

“Branch use has fallen dramatically - the great majority of our customers want to bank when it suits them and at all hours.

“They aren't using a branch as their first point of call now at all. We have to respond to changing trends and we have to invest in a range of services to give customers what they want and what they expect.”

Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Ged Killen said the idea online banking could replace branches was “wishful thinking”.

"The answers given by Mr McEwan to the committee this morning were vague when we wanted specifics and focused on specifics when we asked for the bigger picture.”

Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MP John Lamont said McEwan’s evidence was "pathetic".

"The comments by Ross McEwan and his associates showed a complete lack of understanding about the impact losing a bank will have on rural communities,” he said.

"Despite the bank's warm words, the reality on the ground is somewhat different and harsher for communities who are losing bank branches and mobile banking services.”

Committee chairman Pete Wishart told the Press and Journal RBS was “paying lip service” to the 10 branches under review.

“It was an immensely frustrating and disappointing session once again with RBS,” he said.

“It was cold comfort for the vast range of communities that are going to be hit by these closures.

“I think it showed a contempt for their customer base, designing technological features when all their customers want is to go down to their local branch.

“My sense is these 10 branches due to be reviewed are just being set up to fail because they have no interest in saving them.”

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