Scottish Government calls for ‘minimum level of banking service provision’
The Scottish Government has called on the UK government to establish and enforce a guaranteed minimum level of service provision for essential banking services.
Following the announcement that Royal Bank of Scotland is to close 62 more branches across Scotland, Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse said the government needed to take steps to ensure communities have access to day-to-day banking services.
In a letter to the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Mr Wheelhouse wrote: “I call on the UK Government to establish and enforce a guaranteed minimum level of service provision for essential banking services, recognising the importance of continued access to banking for communities across Scotland, and across the UK.
“In doing so, I recognise the increasing partnership working between the retail banks and Post Office Limited, to ensure provision of basic banking services is retained in local communities, albeit, even where this is feasible, this does still result in a significantly reduced range of services that can be undertaken on a face to face basis and the continued availability of post office branches is vulnerable to sustainability and succession issues in many cases.”
He added: “Crucially, as the UK Government maintains a majority shareholding in Royal Bank of Scotland, and also retain all legislative and regulatory powers in respect of financial services, I seek your support in asking the Royal Bank, and other banks that may well yet announce further programmes of closures, to call a halt to this potentially damaging programme of closures, while banks, their stakeholders and both Governments consider how best to take account of its obligation to its customers to provide a banking service that meets their needs.
“The UK Government, as the bank’s majority shareholder, in our view, should use its influence through not agreeing to any closures in locations where no face-to-face alternatives are in place, and should require the Royal Bank of Scotland to ensure that practical and sustainable alternative banking services are put in place before any closures are signed off.”