New figures reveal full extent of bank closures in two Fife towns

Two-thirds of banks in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath have closed since 2015 - and a huge number of ATMs have also gone, new figures show.

The full extent of the losses in local communities was revealed by consumer champion Which?

Its research showed a sharp decline in the number of bank branches open in areas across much of the UK compared to seven years ago.

According to figures up to the end of April, 12 banks have been shuttered in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeathin the last seven years, leaving six remaining in the area.

Royal Bank, Kirkcaldy- the High Street branch closed,leaving behind another empty unit.

Losses include the TSB in Templehall, as well as RBs and the Clydesdale Bank from Kirkcaldy’s High Street.

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Separate figures from LINK, a cash machine network, show there has also been a decline in the number of free-to-use ATMs across the UK in recent years.

Between the start of 2018 and early March 2022, the number of ATMs in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath dropped from 101 to 72.

Clydesdale Bank, High Street, Kirkcaldy - the branch closed its doors several years ago.

The increasing use of online banking and contactless payments have led to concerns some will be left behind, or unable to access key services.

Which? chief executive, Anabel Hoult, said: “While the pandemic has accelerated the move to digital payments for many consumers, many are not yet ready to make that switch and require protection from an avalanche of ATM and bank branch closures that have left the UK’s cash system at risk of collapse.”

A bill to protect access to cash was announced as part of the Queen’s Speech in May.

The Treasury says the new legislation will ensure “continued access to withdrawal and deposit facilities across the UK”.

Economic secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, said: “We know that access to cash is still vital for many people, especially those in vulnerable groups.

“We promised we would protect it, and through this bill we are delivering on that promise.”

Full details on what will be included are yet to be published.

Which? welcomed the bill but said it “must ensure that clear requirements are placed on industry to meet communities’ need for cash”.

Its data found that nearly half (48%) of bank branches across the UK have closed since the start of 2015.