RBS has failed to fully appreciate the “damage” that will be caused by its decision to close dozens of its Scottish branches, a damning report from MPs has found.
The Scottish Affairs Committee urged the bank, which is majority-owned by the taxpayer, to halt plans to axe 52 branches across Scotland, describing the move as a “devastating blow” to those communities affected.
John Lamont, Conservative MP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Publication of the report by the 11-strong committee, which included four Tories, led to one of the Conservative members criticising the UK government for a lack of action on the issue.
Tory MP John Lamont said: “It remains a point of frustration that the government has decided not to use its influence to get the outcome that we wanted.
“It’s quite a critical report for Conservative members to sign up. That speaks for itself on how the four [Tory MPs] on the committee viewed the government’s approach, and indeed the wider Conservative group in Scotland.”
RBS said the closures were a response to the increasing numbers of customers using mobile and online banking.
However, the plans attracted fierce criticism from local communities, business groups and politicians.
The committee report said the closures would remove “vital services relied upon by businesses and disproportionately affecting vulnerable customers”.
It states: “We are not convinced that RBS fully appreciate the damage these closures will do to the communities and businesses that rely on these branches.”
An RBS spokesman said: “We would like to reassure our customers and the committee that we do understand closing a branch can be difficult for some customers and colleagues who work in these branches. It’s not an easy decision. The way our customers are banking is changing and it is important that we respond to that change. Across Scotland, usage of our branches is down 44 per cent since 2011.”