Gordon MP Richard Thomson has expressed concern that some communities may be left behind with people struggling to access cash due to the unprecedented rate of bank closures.
Mr Thomson was commenting on the publication of a report by the Scottish Affairs Committee which found that since 2015, 53% of Scotland’s bank branches have closed. In Gordon, communities such as Huntly, Dyce and Bucksburn are now completely without banks, with Ellon losing half its bank branches in recent times.
The Scottish Affairs Committee report went on to say that despite the drop in cash usage, it remains the second most frequently used form of payment, with around 500,000 people in Scotland reliant on cash usage.
Commenting, Richard Thomson MP said:
“Innovation by the banks to serve their customers should be welcomed but there are huge concerns about the ability of vulnerable groups and those in isolated or rural locations to be able to continue to access cash if the banks continue to close and the cash machines continue to be removed. Digital banking is fine for many people but some will prefer to use cash for budgeting reasons or prefer to bank in a branch rather than online.
“Ensuring communities have access to cash is vitally important, despite the move to contactless payments. Studies have shown that cash withdrawn in a community tends to stay within that community, benefitting local businesses and traders where cash transactions can be critical.
“The wholesale closure of bank branches and withdrawal of ATM services which usually accompanies that increases pressure on those who by preference or circumstance use cash and, by extension, the local economy.
“This is a welcome report but we now need to see the UK Government step-up and act on the recommendations which are considered and well-thought out and will, if implemented, help protect access to cash and help local economies.”