Scottish Liberal Democrats have today called for meaningful action to preserve access to banking after the Scottish Affairs Committee’s Access to Cash in Scotland revealed that Scotland has the highest rate of bank closures across the UK, with 53% of branches closing since 2015 and 20% of free ATMs closing since 2018.
In March of this year, Bank of Scotland and its parent company Lloyds Banking Group announced that it intended to close 19 Bank of Scotland sites.
The report notes that 500,000 people in Scotland depend on cash for budgeting and bills.
These closures come at a time when the costs of living emergency is causing more people to depend on cash as a way of budgeting amid the crisis.
Responding to the increasing branch and ATM closures across Scotland, Jamie Stone MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross said:
“Small communities are bearing the brunt of these anti-social, large-scale closures.
“Those who are vulnerable or elderly or who simply live too far away from a free-to-use ATM are losing out badly at a time of national crisis.
“Not only are locals being denied another important service, but it hurts tourists and visitors who may be seeking cash outside normal shop hours to use in local bars and restaurants.
“In an ever-escalating cost of living emergency, where people are depending on cash for budgeting purposes, the worrying number of bank closures is simply pouring salt on the wound.
“Lib Dems have consistently called on both the Scottish and UK governments to do more to find a solution to bank branch closures.
“We will continue to call for schemes like community hubs and for the Financial Conduct Authority to prevent banks from carrying out large scale closures, without first providing adequate alternatives.
“The Scottish Government must act on empty promises and help some of the most vulnerable in our community.
“Only by working in partnership with Westminster, rather than engaging in toxic squabbles with it, can this happen.”