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FSB calls for Government action to defend bank branch network

The UK government must step in to stop hundreds of Scottish communities being left without a bank branch, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has told MPs at an evidence session with RBS executives.

In a submission to Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee, the small business campaign group says that: “it is essential that the UK Government establishes a minimum level of banking service provision...”

The submission comes as figures compiled by FSB show that RBS has slashed its branch network by 70 per cent in the last five years. FSB has also compiled an interactive map of more recent closures.

The FSB’s Scottish Policy Convener Andy Willox said: “Local businesses and the communities they serve need banking services. The fact remains that cash is still the most frequently used consumer payment method and you can’t deposit cash using an app. 

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“Branch closures hit firms with additional costs – it becomes more difficult to manage cash flow and forces them to waste hours that should be spent doing business traipsing miles back and forth to a distant branch.

“Our new interactive map shows the extent to which the RBS branch network has been hacked back. But it’s not good enough that there are no official up-to-date figures on closures, planned closures and what’s left. We therefore need some investigation into the scale of the economic impact of these closures and reliable data on what remains.”

The Committee is currently looking into the RBS branch closures programme and will take evidence from senior executives.

The FSB submission urges the Committee to widen the scope of the inquiry to examine the true scale and economic impact of all branch closures in Scotland.