Bill to protect rural services

The Royal Bank of Scotland in Duns closed this year.
The Royal Bank of Scotland in Duns closed this year.

Borders MP John Lamont is supporting a new Bill in the House of Commons that would require banks to support rural communities when they close a branch.

The proposals would mean that banks, such as the Royal Bank of Scotland, that have been helped by the tax payer and are the last remaining bank in rural communities would have a legal responsibility to ensure access to banking provisions are in place.

It would place the Access to Banking Standard, which governs steps banks must take when considering closing a branch, onto a statutory footing and would also place a duty on banks to provide a Community Investment Fund of £100,000 to help support the communities they are abandoning.

In the Scottish Borders, these provisions would safeguard communities such as Selkirk, Duns, Eyemouth which only have one bank remaining - Berwickshire being left with two Bank of Scotland branches.

Mr Lamont said: “The treatment of communities in the Borders by taxpayer supported banks has been completely unfair.

“I support these proposals, which would protect communities which currently only have a single bank. They would make it harder for a branch to close and ensure that if they do, the community received more support and more work is done to ensure the post office can take on extra banking services as a replacement. When banks have accepted public funding, they must accept this support has to come with public responsibilities.”

Losing a bank branch is a huge blow for customers and businesses and I am pleased to support any measures which will help make banks realise the impact of their decisions on rural areas.”