Survey on rural banking services

The RBS branch is Castlebay has been threatened with closure.
The RBS branch is Castlebay has been threatened with closure.

Castlebay on Barra is one of 14 communities across the Highlands and Islands being asked to take part in an online survey on rural banking services.

The survey will be used to gather feedback from a broad range of individual households, businesses and community groups in areas expected to be affected by local bank branch closures.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has commissioned Indigo House Group to carry out the work as part of a wider study into the social and economic importance of access to local banks.

In addition to the online survey, the wider study will learn from other areas that have already experienced bank closures in Scotland and wider in the UK, understand what the impact of these closures have been, and identify alternatives for local banking services.

Carroll Buxton, HIE’s director of regional development, said: “Rural communities around the Highlands and Islands are generally ambitious about their plans for growth, both in their local economy and their population.

“The removal of some local bank branches can present additional challenges in realising these ambitions.

“Factors such as access to business finance, and the ability to deposit and withdraw cash are fundamental to many local clubs and societies as well as businesses and social enterprises.

“It is important for us to fully understand, from those directly affected, how important rural banking services are, and to look at how else these services might be provided, particularly in the context of rural branch closures.

“The findings of this study will be important in informing how we and our partners go about helping communities achieve their ambitions for growth and resilience.”

The online survey will also gather feedback from communities in Tongue, Wick, Kyle of Lochalsh, Mallaig, Aviemore, Grantown on Spey, Nairn, Inverness, Beauly, Tain, Rothesay, Campbeltown, and Inveraray.

It can be accessed at www.hie.co.uk/access-to-banking-services-research and is open until Friday, April 13th.