The Royal Bank of Scotland, which includes NatWest, is the worst UK bank for branch closures new analysis reveals today. The taxpayer-owned bank shut 385 branches between 2014-2015, more than one third of the total of 1150 closures across the UK.
In addition, 165 of these closures were the “last bank in town”, leaving those communities without a bank at all. In total, 301 branch closures were the last bank in town, making RBS responsible for more than half (55%) of all last bank in town closures over the last two years – despite the bank promising in 2010 never to close a last bank in town.
Releasing the analysis, Fionn Travers-Smith, Campaign Manager for Move Your Money, said: “Closing branches cuts people off from their own money, and undermines jobs and communities by starving businesses of both cash and credit.
“We own NatWest & RBS, so they should work for us. Instead, the bank is abandoning the very communities and people that saved it when it was on its knees, and who rely on its services.”
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The news comes on the same day as RBS released its Q2 figures, which show that the retail section of the bank, which owns and operates branches, is running a profit.
“Today’s figures make a mockery of the bank’s claim that keeping branches open isn’t financially viable,” Fionn Travers-Smith continued.
“Bank branches create and sustain wealth and jobs in rural areas. By abandoning communities RBS is creating credit deserts across the UK, and concentrating even more wealth in London and the Southeast”.
The figures come to light a week before a backbench debate on the future of the taxpayer’s majority ownership of the Royal Bank of Scotland, where MPs and campaigners are due to call for the bank to be restructured to serve local and regional economies.
“The public does not support Osborne’s reckless RBS firesale, and instead agrees that we should use our ownership of the bank to make it serve the people and communities that it is instead choosing to abandon. We own RBS & NatWest, so they should work for us,” Fionn Travers-Smith said in advance of the debate.