Mobile banking in Highlands is in ‘chaos’ says MP

Bank closures in remote areas of Scotland have led to difficulties for many customers. PICTURE: IAN RUTHERFORD
Bank closures in remote areas of Scotland have led to difficulties for many customers. PICTURE: IAN RUTHERFORD
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Mobile banking, the major banks’ ‘solution’ to closing down branches in the Highlands, is not working and has resulted in chaos a Scottish MP has said.

Jamie Stone, Lib Dem MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, who raised the issue in the House of Commons, said mobile banks from two different banks can arrive at once in a village, while people in other locations have none.

Mr Stone, who has been campaigning on the issue, also said customers are also facing problems such as waiting in long queues in bad weather and there are difficulties in swapping coinage and some transactions.

Over a dozen banks have closed in the Highlands in recent years.

Mr Stone called on the Government front bench and the Chancellor to order banks to coordinate their actions on delivering this “vital service” to people in the Highlands.

Treasury Minister Stephen Barclay, MP, replied these were commercial decisions and that bank visits had fallen by around a third since 2011 and that over 600,000 18-year-olds had registered for internet banking and that a fifth less cash is used for payments.

Speaking after the debate, Mr Stone said: “I found the ministers reply not at all helpful.

“It is all very well going on about young people using internet banking but this does not address the problems the non-young have in access proper banking facilities in their communities.

“My point about a more organised mobile bank system being set up, the lack of any ability to deal with paper-based transactions, and people having to queue outside the mobile bank, in sometimes filthy weather, was completely ignored.

“This is simply not good enough and I shall be returning to this issue at the very first opportunity.

“If Government was so-minded, it would be easy to instruct the high-street banks to get their act together. The bottom line is this, citizens of the UK, and in particularly my constituents in the remoter areas have an equal right to adequate and accessible banking facilities.”

A spokesman for UK Finance, representing around 300 banking and finance organisations, said: “Customers want a range of ways to do their banking, and the industry is responding to this by investing in a number of options including mobile branches.

“This enables banks to increase the number of rural communities they reach, selecting the most appropriate mobile banking locations and timings for their customers.

“All major banks have also arranged for customers and businesses to be able to do basic banking at all 11,500 post office branches, and are signed up to the Access to Banking Standard.”