MP takes bank battle to the top
Concerns raised with Treasury and RBS
MP Luke Graham is continuing to press the Treasury and Royal Bank of Scotland for solutions following the announcement that 62 RBS branches will close, including the one in Comrie.
Mr Graham has described the move as misguided. The member for Ochil and South Perthshire was amongst the MPs who recently wrote to Treasury minister Stephen Barclay expressing their concern, and concerns of their constituents, about the planned closures. The MPs with affected branches in their constituencies have also met with representatives from RBS to raise concerns in person.
On Monday night, Scottish Conservative MPs participated in the adjournment debate in the House of Commons on the Royal Bank of Scotland branch closures.
Commenting on the debate, Mr Graham said: “There is a huge level of concern about RBS closures across Scotland, in particular the impact on rural communities.
“Alternatives for local branches do not provide a realistic substitute, for example poor broadband access in Scotland restricting the use of online banking.
“We believe this decision by RBS to be misguided and with inadequate mitigations, and the first priority is finding a solution that works for our constituents. Meetings have been held with stakeholders and industry bodies to find acceptable, free-to-access alternatives, and we will continue to press the Treasury and RBS to come to a satisfactory decision.”
The letter to Treasury minister Stephen Barclay, which was sent on December 13 reads:
Dear Stephen, I am writing on behalf of the twelve backbench Scottish Conservative and Unionist MPs to register our concerns with you over the announcement by the Royal Bank of Scotland ( RBS) of the closure of 62 branches in Scotland.
Last week we met as a group with representatives of RBS to raise our concerns and those of our constituents, and to make clear our opposition to the proposed closures. Whilst we accept that efforts have been made to mitigate these closures, we were not reassured. Put simply, we felt these mitigations are insufficient:
In many rural constituencies, the broadband connection required for internet banking is simply insufficient to be a viable alternative.
Post Offices are often closed or are subsidiary post offices, and therefore unable to provide the services required.
Mobile van banks are insufficient as they will only visit a town or village once or twice a week, leaving many rural constituents dependent upon a round trip of several hours simply to reach their nearest branch.
Given the public stake in RBS, we were also extremely concerned that the representatives from the bank couldn’t articulate any savings to improve shareholder return to offset against these closures.
We accept that this is a commercial decision for RBS, and we will continue to make the case directly to them that this is a misguided decision with inadequate mitigations. However, we would also be keen to meet with you to discuss the wider issue of banking in more rural parts of Scotland. Our experience is that people in these areas necessarily bank in a different way to the majority of the population – and that national trends mask the reality in some of the communities we represent.
Access to banking is a necessity, wherever someone lives. If commercial banks are no longer intending to serve rural communities, then we have a duty to understand the needs of these communities and how we can use the levers we control to ensure they can be met.
We would be grateful for a meeting with you at the earliest possible convenience to discuss this issue further.
Closure The Royal Bank of Scotland in Comrie