MPs speak out against bank branch closures
Government should legislate if necessary to make sure people have access to banking services, say Scottish MPs.
A group of MPs is calling on the Government to take action to stop banks closing the ‘last branch in town’.
In its report on access to cash, Westminster's Scottish Affairs Committee says that since 2015, bank branches across the UK have been closing at an average of 70 per month, with 12% of the closures in Scotland.
Lack of connectivity
The effects of closures include reduced high-street footfall and lack of access to cash, the report states. It also says that almost two million people in Scotland never use online banking services and that poor connectivity means it isn’t an option for them.
“We are disappointed that banks are continuing to close branches in Scotland and are concerned by the devastating impact closing bank branches can have on communities and small businesses,” the report says.
“We believe that the Government has a role in ensuring communities continue to have access to banking services. We recommend that the Government seek a commitment from banks that they will not close the last bank in town. If such a commitment is not forthcoming we believe the Government should consider further measures, including legislation, to ensure communities still have access to vital banking services.”
More Post Office support
The MPs also called for Post Offices that take over banking services to be given more support. This could include more pay for providing banking services, more help in identifying fraud and offering closed bank branches as possible sites for Post Offices.
And it wants to see its previous recommendations for processes around bank closures being acted on, including consultation ahead of closure decisions and banks to publish assessments on the impact of closures on vulnerable groups.
The report also expresses concern about ATM closures and says there should be encouragement to open ATMs in vulnerable communities.