UK GOVERNMENT "MUST USE ANY INFLUENCE IT HAS" TO STOP RBS BRANCH CLOSURES

RBS announced in December that it would close 62 branches in Scotland as part of a UK-wide cull of 259. It partially reversed that decision in February, when it said 10 rural Scottish branches would be reprieved at least until the end of 2018. Some of the doomed branches have already closed, with many due to close next month. A new report into the matter by the Scottish Affairs Committee says RBS has "singularly failed" to appreciate the damage their closure programme will inflict on many communities across the country. Patricia Gibson MP said the committee also questioned "the assumptions made by RBS" that led to the planned closures. “RBS does not seem to understand the impact of the closures on communities in Scotland. The loss of a permanent bank and the services it provides, cannot be replicated by the occasional visit of a mobile bank or ‘community banker.’ "RBS did not consult adequately and even at this late stage should reverse their closure decision. “The reprieve offered to 10 branches - none of these include the North Ayrshire branches earmarked for closure in Kilbirnie, Kilwinning and Saltcoats - is inadequate and almost designed to fail, with no solid plan about how these branches' performance will be assessed. It should be noted too that any secured in closing branches is dwarfed by the operating profits generated by the bank last year. “The UK Tory Government has an obligation to represent the interests of citizens and communities in Scotland that will be harmed by this swathe of bank closures. Instead, they have been silent. They own 72.9% of RBS shares and should have this decision reversed.” Colin Borland, Head of Devolved Nations at theFederation of Small Businesses (FSB) - one of numerous organisations critical of the closures -added: “RBS branch closures will have an adverse impact on individuals and makes it more difficult to run a business in many parts of Scotland. “We agree that the UK Government should step in and get some value from its shareholding. Ministers must stop sitting on their hands and ask hard questions of this taxpayer-backed bank.” ENDS

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