RBS Faces Calls To Stop Bank Closures After Announcing Bumper Profits
Labour, Trade Unions and the Federation of Small Businesses have called for a 'moratorium' on branch closures by the Royal Bank of Scotland, after it announced operational profits of £792 million for the first three months of 2018.
Unite has been campaigning against RBS' planned closure of a further 62 local branches in Scotland, which the Union says will subject communities to an "economic whirlwind".
Mary Alexander, the Deputy Scottish Secretary commented that "Here we have it in black and white on the RBS balance sheet - RBS is rolling in profits. Surely now its time for the bank to call a moratorium on the axe hanging over 62 branches in Scotland. After all this now a totally different situation profit wise to when the plans were made to close one in three branches."
After the Royal Bank of Scotland was taken into majority public ownership in 2008, cost-cutting measures were implemented in order to return the bank to profit. However, campaigners say that the effect of mass branch closures have been 'devastating' on rural communities and the elderly.
Scottish Labour's Richard Leonard has said that "The trebling of profits by RBS will be no comfort to the communities across Scotland still facing local bank closures.
The Royal Bank of Scotland - and other banks - risk decimating high streets with those ill thought out closures, as well as depriving local people - particularly older people - of a vital lifeline service.
RBS should urgently reconsider these planned closures."
The bank has also come under fire from small businesses, many of which still rely on cash rather than online transactions.
“With RBS’s finances improving, it’s disappointing to see the majority taxpayer-owned bank continuing to reduce in-person support for the public,” said Mike Cherry, the FSB national chairman.
“Local businesses rely on local bank branches, as do their customers. When a bank branch closes it makes accessing cash that much harder. Less cash flow in a local economy means less growth.”
RBS' chief executive, Ross McEwan, has defended the closures on the grounds of "customer choice".