Paisley Daily Express
Fears over number of bank branches axed
Politicians hit out at rate of closures across Renfrewshire
Banks in Renfrewshire shut at their fastest rate in a decade before the coronavirus pandemic struck, according to government data.
The number of branches open across the region fell by approximately a third in the year to March 2020 from around 15 to ten, which is the biggest year-onyear drop since records began in 2010.
The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) - which have been analysed by the Reach Data Unit - are rounded to the nearest five.
The number of banks in Renfrewshire has also plummeted by around 70 per cent in the last ten years, with data indicating there were around 35 branches open a decade ago.
Earlier this year, TSB shut their bases in Renfrew and Johnstone due to a “shift in customer behaviour” including a huge reduction of people using high street banks.
That was after Renfrew had already lost its Santander, Clydesdale and RBS branches in 2016, while the Clydesdale sites in Johnstone and Bridge of Weir also closed.
The Bank of Scotland and TSB branches in Paisley’s Neilston Road have disappeared in recent years, while the town lost an RBS in Glasgow Road.
Councillor Stephen Burns, who represents Paisley Southwest, said he doesn’t see the trend stopping anytime soon.
He said: “I fear the closure of banks will continue for quite some time and I think it’s fair to say some town centres in Renfrewshire could be left without a single bank in years to come.
“The problem has only got worse with covid as some banks have reduced their hours when, if anything, they should be open more for people.
“Bank closures are a real problem for the elderly because they generally are not as clued up with the technology for scanning cheques with your mobile phone or using online banking.
“Some people don’t even have internet.
“A lot of them like to pay their bills in person.
“Of course, when you lose a bank, you also lose cashpoints.
“Many elderly people prefer to use cash and deal in cash because it can be good for budgeting purposes.
“They don’t like being put through to a call centre where they end up listening to hold music for ages.”
Paisley Northwest councillor Kenny MacLaren said closures also have negative implications for community organisations.
He added: “Bank closures have a devastating impact on not just individuals but also local community groups and businesses, who have to have access to a bank to deposit their takings.
“This has an impact on the viability for such organisations, making it more difficult for them to operate.
“It’ s not only rural communities who are affected but also those in out- of- town centre locations who have no alternative banking options and have to travel into the town centre to do their banking.
“It’s clear the major banks have little regard for their customers.”
The number of building society branches in Renfrewshire has remained at around five in recent years.
In the year to March 2020, the number of bank branches across the UK dropped by 10 per cent, the second-biggest drop in the past decade.
According to the ONS count, there were 7,675 branches open nationally in March 2020, a fall from 8,525 the year before.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “The scale of the bank branch cull over recent years means communities across the country are being cutoff from their money.
“The rapid move towards online banking over the past few years has caused significant problems for many older customers, particularly those with visual impairments and dexterity problems.
“While older people are increasingly getting online, over half of those aged 65+ still do not use internet banking.
“When branch closures coincide with poor local transport, a lack of ATMs, and mobile black spots, it can become near impossible for older people to manage their money independently.”
Some town centres in Renfrewshire could be left without a single bank in years to come