Bank closures risks isolating society’s most vulnerable

Rbs branch

​Leading charity urges banks to rethink closure policy 

7th April 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

A leading charity is calling on Scotland’s banks to urgently review the services they provide to local communities in the aftermath of branch closures.  

Age Scotland says planned closures particularly in rural and remote areas could further isolate those already at risk of being cut off from society.

This week RBS announced it is shutting 30 more Scottish branches as more customers move to online banking.

The call comes in the wake of the story of Sandra Borthwick, whose local RBS branch in Dalmellington, Ayrshire was closed, to be replaced by a twice-weekly mobile banking van that does not have disabled access. 

The mobile vans do not have ramps, and as a wheelchair user, Sandra is unable to access the bank. She is made to wait in a car park, until the queue in the van has cleared before being served by bank staff, in the car park. 

Age Scotland wants RBS to review its operations to ensure “respect and high quality customer service” is given to all customers. 

The charity is proposing banks work together to mitigate the negative effects of closures through joint bank branches, telebanking, mobile branches and tie-ins with Post Offices.

Keith Robson, Age Scotland chief executive, said: “As banks have closed local branches they have cut off people who are not able to use internet banking. To then make the mobile bank vans inaccessible to people with mobility issues is a further step away from their claim to be Scotland’s most helpful bank.

It will be more difficult for older and frail customers to use the banking services they need - Jeane Freeman

“We’re urging Scotland’s banks to think outside the box and work together to mitigate the negative impacts of local bank closures. Banks, just like libraries and post offices are vital services in our communities. 

"They provide people with information, they encourage older people to get out and about and they help tackle loneliness and isolation. The fact that many of them are closing down will disadvantage many older people."

Joint bank branches would allow people to continue banking face to face in areas with low footfall, where individually branded branches are deemed unsustainable, Robson added.   

Jeane Freeman MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley said: "I'm delighted that an important campaigning organisation like Age Scotland is adding its voice to the calls for the Royal Bank of Scotland to treat its customers with the dignity and respect they deserve.

“The ongoing bank closures in my constituency mean that it will be more difficult for older and frail customers to use the banking services they need. The Royal Bank of Scotland need to come up with a better solution than mobile banks which are inaccessible."