RBS chiefs will be questioned on branch closures

There have been serious concerns in the Islands about access to banking services if the Castlebay branch and ATM closes.
There have been serious concerns in the Islands about access to banking services if the Castlebay branch and ATM closes.
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Executives from the Royal Bank of Scotland will appear before the Scottish Affairs Committee on Wednesday 17 January in a one off session to examine planned branch closures.

In December 2017, RBS announced their intention to close 62 branches, including its Castlebay branch in Barra, to cut a third of their overall number.

It is expected that this will include the loss of 158 jobs.

RBS have defended the plans, citing the increasing use of online or mobile platforms to access banking services.

However, there are serious concerns around the impact of closures on local communities, particularly in rural areas, where access to broadband is poor and few alternatives available.

The Committee will examine the basis for the decision to close the branches in Scotland, and the process behind it.

They will also investigate how a publicly owned company can remove vital services and ask what is being done to support the communities affected in the future.

The Committee will also hear from other groups likely to be affected.

The Post Office will give evidence on their capacity to replace services provided by RBS in location where branches are closing.

They will also hear from Scottish Rural Action, Unite and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce on the impact of closures on local communities, and the businesses and individuals who depend on the services RBS provide.

Chair of the Committee, Pete Wishart, said: “RBS’s decision to close over 60 branches will have a serious impact on the people of Scotland and may leave some rural communities without a local bank.

“We will want to hear from RBS how such cuts can be justified by a bank that the UK Government, and therefore the taxpayer, still owns the majority stake in.

“We will reserve the right to extend this short inquiry if we feel we do not secure satisfactory responses; we are therefore also hoping to hear from the Government and if necessary from Ross McEwan, Chief Executive of RBS.”