MPs have lined up to slam a series of bank closures which have left rural communities without any local branch to visit.
Last night, Ian Blackford, MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, sponsored a parliamentary debate on the recent closure of 321 Royal Bank of Scotland branches.
Thirteen towns in Scotland will be left with no bank at all as a result of the closures, despite RBS promising never to take away a town’s last bank in 2010.
“Having a bank on the high street which collects and issues cash and provides other banking services is instrumental to the economic wellbeing of all our communities”, Mr Blackford said.
“Individuals and businesses rely on the access in person to banking services. Why did we save RBS, if there is no recognition there is a liability on the bank to serve its customers and communities?”
In the debate, MPs explained how during previous rounds of closures, banks had advised people to use post offices for their banking needs, only for the post offices to close six months later.
Others were advised to visit neighbouring branches, which were also closed shortly afterwards.
RBS have said the latest closures are necessary because of a 40 per cent drop in usage since 2014, as well as a 41 per cent increase in mobile and online banking.
But Mr Blackford disputed the claims. He said: “RBS is trying to create a picture of these branches as a relic of the past, saying demand for branch banking has declined and customers are not utilising the branches.
“According to RBS, only 11 customers use Mallaig on a weekly basis, 27 visit Beauly and 51 use Kyle.
“We know the reality. As opposed to the 51 regular customers trumpeted for Kyle, there are actually 25,000 transactions.
“If we focused on the so-called 51 customers, we might be sympathetic to the demands from RBS to close the bank, yet the fact there are 25,000 transactions a year allows me to conclude that the branch is still relatively busy.”