Mass bank closures ‘unacceptable’, says Age Scotland

Royal Bank of Scotland has been heavily criticised over closing branches across Scotland. Picture: PA
Royal Bank of Scotland has been heavily criticised over closing branches across Scotland. Picture: PA
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Mass bank closures are “unacceptable” for older people and innovative solutions like shared banking hubs should be introduced, according to Age Scotland.

Following a bank closure debate at Holyrood on Tuesday, the national charity for older people called on banks to introduce measures to alleviate the loss of local branches.

Age Scotland, who contributed to the Scottish Parliament’s inquiry into bank closures, said its plea for a solution is gaining traction with politicians and was noted in the economy, jobs and fair work committee’s report.

The number of bank branches in Scotland fell by a third between 2010 and 2017, with five banks closing 488 branches. The Royal Bank of Scotland, still 72 per cent owned by the taxpayer, announced in December that it was closing 62 branches across Scotland.

Brian Sloan, Age Scotland’s chief executive, said that older people have been telling the charity how bank closures have been affecting them.

He added: “I’m delighted that our contribution has been recognised in the committee’s final report, including our suggestion that shared banking hubs should be further explored by the banks.

“Physical branches are important to older people. They prefer having a face-to-face conversation about their finances with a real person. As older people are more likely to be targeted for scams, they’re less likely to go online or use the phone for banking and they shouldn’t be discriminated for this choice. Indeed, 67 per cent of people over 75 don’t use the internet at all.

“Our recommendation of shared banking hubs for smaller communities, suburbs and rural areas is gathering support.”

An RBS spokesperson said: “We recognise every customer will have different banking needs and we are committed to ensuring all our customers receive the best possible service. However, the way customers are banking is changing, and it is important we respond to that change. Across Scotland, usage of our branches is down 44 per cent since 2011 and only 1 per cent of our customers in Scotland visit their branch weekly.

We have invested to provide more ways to bank than ever before including in digital services via online banking and our mobile app, as well as face to face options.

“Royal Bank of Scotland has tripled its physical points of service to over 2,000 in communities across Scotland since 2014 through our 21 community bankers who serve 69 communities, our partnership with the 1,400 Post Offices in Scotland, ATMs, branch network, and mobile vans.”