5 January 2018
Caithness, Sutherland and Ross Labour Party believe banks should carefully consider the implications of closing branch facilities within rural areas.
While acknowledging that banks are a commercial enterprise that should not be expected to run their branches at a cumulative loss, the industry drive towards internet banking has somewhat forced upon changing customer trends and a subsequent closure of branches.
Closures within rural areas usually mean customers have significantly further to travel to their nearest available branch, which is a particular inconvenience for people with mobility issues or those who must rely on infrequent forms of public transport.
Internet banking is not useful for individuals or businesses who need to transfer cash, as well as people who:
a) Are not computer literate.
b) Live in more remote areas with poorer internet access.
c) Are wary of the risk of internet scamming.
d) Are not able to budget for internet provider subscriptions, or computerised devices.
We believe the banking industry should collaborate with the Scottish government in creating a system of basic banking for customers upon walking into any bank, regardless as to which bank each customer may hold an account with.
Ultimately banks should accept a wider level of responsibility and courtesy towards people within rural communities who have loyally supported them, and hold adequate public consultations before any major change in service is announced.
This would allow for considered measures to be put in place, rather than thrusting limited options at people and communities.
Additionally, a culture of excessive performance incentives to senior executives contrasts unfairly with redundancies or future uncertainty for lower paid bank employees working within branches.
Caithness, Sutherland and Ross Labour Party, 5th January 2018.