Concern at rapid decline in access to cash in Aberdeenshire communities

Concern have been raised that some communities may be left behind with people struggling to access cash due to the unprecedented rate of bank closures.

A recent report by the Scottish Affairs Committee found that since 2015, 53 per cent of Scotland’s bank branches have closed, with Ellon losing half its bank branches in recent times.

From difficulties adapting to a society built on digital payments, to older people on lower and fixed incomes using it as a budgeting tool, many people opt to use cash for a number of reasons.

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However, the Committee raises concern that not enough support is being offered to support these individuals as the UK transitions to an increasingly digital society, nor has adequate research been undertaken to understand the full implications of such a move.

Ellon has lost half of its bank branches in recent times.Ellon has lost half of its bank branches in recent times.
Ellon has lost half of its bank branches in recent times.

Scottish Affairs Committee Chair, Pete Wishart MP, said: “Access to cash across Scotland has been decimated in recent years, leading to Westminster Committees investigating the issue multiple times.

"While the move to digital banking and payments has offered a method at which to do transactions that many of us enjoy, we cannot forget the 500,000 people in Scotland who rely on cash in their day-to-day lives.

"We are calling for more research into the implications of a cashless society and more secure and longer-term agreements to ensure the continued access to cash.”

Voicing his concerns, Richard Thomson MP said: “Innovation by the banks to serve their customers should be welcomed but there are huge concerns about the ability of vulnerable groups and those in isolated or rural locations to be able to continue to access cash if the banks continue to close and the cash machines continue to be removed.

"Digital banking is fine for many people but some will prefer to use cash for budgeting reasons or prefer to bank in a branch rather than online.

“Ensuring communities have access to cash is vitally important, despite the move to contactless payments.

"Studies have shown that cash withdrawn in a community tends to stay within that community, benefitting local businesses and traders where cash transactions can be critical.”