Older Scots being let down by bank closures

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Charity hits out as survey reveals almost 400 branches have shut since 2015.

24th September 2019 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

Bank closures are leaving Scotland’s older people without vital access to financial services, according to a charity.

Age Scotland said half a million people over the age of 60 who do not use the internet are being left behind as banks switch their focus from the high street to digital banking.

A recent report by Which? revealed there have been 396 branch closures in Scotland since 2015, a decline of 38%.

Additionally, 11 bank branches are only open for one day a week, further reducing access.

Brian Sloan, Age Scotland’s chief executive, said: “Bank branches have been disappearing from Scottish high streets at a rate of knots leaving many communities and customers without access to a valuable face to face service. Many older people face particular challenges when it comes to managing their money and the half a million people in Scotland over the age of 60 who do not use the internet are being left behind with the move to digital by default banking.

“Coupled with the considerable reduction of free to use cash machines in Scotland it is becoming harder and harder for older people to bank in the way that works for them.

“The alternative banking solutions such as the Post Office network only works for the most basic of needs and for many older people who need face to face advice on scams, financial health checks and access to new products, they do not work at all.”

Rural communities often bear the brunt of closures, with towns such as Lochgelly and Dornoch now left without a single bank branch. Age Scotland is calling for banks to consider sharing branches to bring their costs down while continuing to provide essential services.

“These banking hubs would exist with a number of banks operating under one roof, offering customers the face to face service so many need and want as well as saving on building overheads,” said Mr Sloan.

“We know this model is already working for business banking with new pilots in parts of England, so it should be further explored for personal banking. This would help to alleviate the risk of the last bank in town closing and provide a better service to customers who are unable to adapt to the rapid pace of digital banking and local businesses in need of branch services."