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RBS executives face grilling over closures

RBS branch

Branch closures will devastate communities, say campaigners

Small businesses and a trades union are urging  the UK government to intervene in the Royal Bank of Scotland’s branch closure programme.

MPs in Westminster will be urged take action to stop the shutdown of 62 outlets across Scotland. On Wednesday they will grill a number of RBS executives over the issue and take evidence.

Figures compiled by the Federation of Small Business show that RBS has slashed its branch network by 70% in the last five years. The FSB has told MPs in a submission to Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee that “it is essential that the UK Government establishes a minimum level of banking service provision…”

The FSB’s Scottish Policy Convener Andy Willox said: “Local businesses and the communities they serve need banking services. The fact remains that cash is still the most frequently used consumer payment method and you can’t deposit cash using an app. 

“Branch closures hit firms with additional costs – it becomes more difficult to manage cash flow and forces them to waste hours that should be spent doing business traipsing miles back and forth to a distant branch.

“It’s not good enough that there are no official up-to-date figures on closures, planned closures and what’s left. We therefore need some investigation into the scale of the economic impact of these closures and reliable data on what remains.”

Lyn Turner, regional officer of trade union Unite will give evidence to the Committee.

The union says that if RBS carries through its proposed closures it will be responsible for the devastation of local communities across Scotland.

Mr Turner says: “In the last decade the taxpayer paid out £45bn to bail out the failed executives of RBS in the financial crisis. The taxpayer still owns the bank and yet the pay back for its rescue is now the proposed closure of one in three of its branches across Scotland. This is a betrayal of the people of Scotland.”

In its submission to the Committee, Unite Scotland will show that RBS has consistently presented the lowest figures for job losses possible, and has failed to explain the reasons for closures.

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