Is it time to end the cull of local bank branches?

Royal Bank, Kirkcaldy
Royal Bank, Kirkcaldy

The impact of bank closures across Fife has been highlighted in a new report for politicians.

The Federation of Small Businesses revealed this week that RBS – which is largely owned by the public after the great bail out – has culled its network of branches by some 70 per cent in the last five years.

The lengthy list of closures includes a host of Fife towns, from Cupar to Cowdenbeath.

The branch in Kirkcaldy’s High Street shut last October.

Others which have gone across the Kingdom include Dalgety Bay, Leven and Anstruther.

RBS justified each closure stating more customers were doing their banking online, but there has been widespread concern of on the impact on local people, and small businesses who use them for cash deposits.

Now the FSB has called on the UK Government to step in to stop many communities being left without a bank branch.

The business organisation presented its evidence to politicians ahead of their meet with RBS senior executives at Westminster on Wednesday.

Its submission to the Scottish Affairs Committee said it was ‘‘essential that the UK Government establishes a minimum level of banking service provision.’’

Andy Willox, the FSB‘s Scottish policy convener 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.

The FSB also called for an investigation into the scale of the economic impact of closures – and reliable data on what remains.

The committee is currently looking into the RBS branch closures programme.