Save Our Banks

By 23/12/17

Communities across Scotland, particular in our rural areas, are rightly concerned about the impact the decision by RBS to close branches, including in some cases the last branch in the community, will have on local businesses, employees, the elderly and vulnerable and all those who need access to banking services.

I know that more and more of us do our banking on the internet or by phone but that simply isn’t an option for everyone. RBS and the banking industry need to think again.

Many older or vulnerable members of our communities rely on branches to conduct their banking, and while banks have a duty to support people to transfer to mobile or online banking, for many that simply won’t be something they feel safe or comfortable doing.

Equally mobile and online banking doesn’t solve the problems of businesses, many of whom in rural communities will still take cash and who without local branches will now have to take significant time out of their working day to travel to the remaining branches to deposit their takings or to speak to someone if they need face to face for business advice.

Since the decision by RBS was announced the Scottish Government has stood side by side with the communities and employees affected. We have called on the UK Government as the government responsible for banking, and as part owners of RBS, to step up to the plate. We have asked them to establish and enforce a guaranteed minimum level of service provision for essential banking services, recognising the importance of continued access to banking for towns and communities across Scotland.

It was deeply disappointing this week to hear the Prime Minister continue to brush off my Westminster colleagues requests for the government to step in with party political attacks when she should have been standing up for the public interest.

The Scottish Government will continue to do everything it can to support affected staff and to identify solutions that will preserve access to essential banking services for customers and communities throughout the country but ultimately it is only the UK government that can act to stop these branch closures and that’s why campaigns like the Press and Journal’s campaign to Save our Banks are essential to add to the pressure and to force RBS and the UK government to provide a better service to rural Scotland.


Scottish Rural Action launch survey on rural RBS branch closures.


Featured photo is a Screengrab from

RBS to Move, London, Scotland, Votes Yes
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That is deliberate policy from some Brexiteers. In fact they want to turn the clock back to the 19th-century, when Scotland was known by some only as “North Britain”.

But in addition its hard to get the UK Tory Government to listen to any of Scotland’s concerns at this crucial time. Theresa May isn’t interested in what happens north of the Border and does her best to ignore us.


SNP MSP Richard Lochhead launched his Fair Delivery Charges website last month after first raising the issue at First Minster’s Questions in December 2016 that brought the issue to national attention.

The campaign website has so far received over 2,000 submissions from the public and has highlighted examples of absurd surcharges that are too often levied on Scottish consumers.

The Advertising Standards Authority agreed to crackdown on firms that, despite advertising UK-wide delivery, penalise residents and businesses in rural Scotland with extortionate delivery surcharges, following a meeting with Richard Lochhead MSP last week. Scottish and UK Ministers have also agreed to investigate the cases highlighted by the campaign.

Richard Lochhead MSP said:

“It is absolutely astonishing that online shoppers in Scotland are having to spend an estimated additional £36.3 million each year on parcel delivery surcharges compared to the rest of the UK simply because of where they live.

“This Christmas will be more expensive for many Scots online shoppers because of parcel delivery surcharges that are applied without any justification to many northern postcodes. Many retailers deliver free or for a modest cost but others apply eye watering surcharges amounting to a whopping £36.3 million in extra costs.

“So far, my campaign has led to the UK Government agreeing to review rip-off surcharges and inspired action from the Advertising Standards Authority to crackdown on the firms that are charging extortionate delivery fees for residents and businesses in rural Scotland.

“One of the latest examples of rip-off surcharges is a £500 delivery fee to the Hebrides for Amazon items costing £85, and this is just one of many ridiculous examples of excessive delivery surcharges.

“Rural Scotland is home to some of the most loyal online shoppers and in the run up to Christmas I will continue campaigning and piling the pressure on retailers to end the rip-off surcharge facing too many Scottish consumers.

“This new research vindicates a campaign that has caught the public imagination and won support across Scotland and the political spectrum. It’s now time for the authorities to act and for every retailer to review its delivery charges and to stop discriminating against many parts of Scotland.”


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The MP said: “Millions of families across the UK are suffering from a Tory pay cut – as rising prices, stagnant wages, and cuts to social security continue to squeeze living standards and push households into poverty, debt and destitution.

THE SNP have warned that families are suffering from a “Dickensian Tory Christmas Carol”.

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Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell has said the rejection is “ludicrous”, as he urged officials to review their decision. “The parents have done a lot of hard work to get a Gaelic unit established,” Mr Russell said.

He blamed an “obsession with keeping migration numbers down” for the rejecting the visa application.

“I have asked the Scottish Government to support the council in redoubling its efforts to get this sorted for the good of the children and community on Mull,” Mr Russell said.

“I hope the UK Government will show some Christmas spirit and withdraw its objection now.”


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Source: Home Office blocks Canadian from teaching Gaelic in Hebridean primary school

RBS Branch Closures And Survey Link

Source: Scottish Rural Parliament

The announced closure of 62 RBS branches across Scotland in the last week has kicked off debate from village shops to Holyrood and was also raised at Prime Ministers Questions in Westminster.

We will be representing views at the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster on 17 January 2018 – so it’s really important we get a wide range of responses to our survey a printable version is also available, see below.  It should only take a couple of minutes to complete.

Survey Link

Emma Cooper, Chief Executive of Scottish Rural Action said

Since RBS was bailed out by the British tax payers in 2008, we own 71% of the business. RBS should be acting in the interest of our communities, not just for making profit for its bosses.

Scottish Rural Action is undertaking this research to find out what the impacts will be on our rural communities and their high streets.  Some suggest it may be a good thing as it will free up shop units for other types of businesses, whilst others argue it will drive away business.  We expect the survey to show complex results with a range of impacts.

Scottish Rural Action will take full range of views collected to an evidence session at Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster on 17 January 2018, so it is important we are able to fully represent rural Scotland.

We know anecdotally impacts of these planned branch closures will hit rural communities the hardest, and it will be the elderly and those who rely on public transport that will be disproportionately affected.  Island communities and villages in the Highlands and Borders may have to do round trips of several hours to do their cash banking.  We know that many rural communities do not have reliable high speed broadband or mobile signal to use the digital solutions on offer for a limited number of services.

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Investing In The Future. #Childcare #ScotBudget

A child’s early years are critical to determining outcomes in later life. This budget sees a step-change in the funding for the transformational expansion in childcare and early years’ education, with investment of £243 million towards providing 1,140 hours of childcare per year.

It also provides £8 million to fund the Baby Box, giving every child born in Scotland the same everyday essentials that they need.

2018 is Scotland’s Year of Young People and the Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that Scotland is the best place in the world to grow up. This is why a £50 million Tackling Child Poverty Fund is being established to trial innovative programmes that address the underlying social and economic causes of poverty. A new enhanced Best Start Grant will replace the current Sure Start Maternity Grant to be delivered by summer 2019.


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