RBS to MPs: Closing Branches in Rural Areas is ‘Necessary’

RBS Chief Executive Ross McEwan appeared in front of MPs today to explain exactly why closing branches all over rural Scotland was necessary when the bank had just tripled its profits.

The bank, which is closing 62 branches across Scotland, has come under heavy fire from all parties for leaving rural and elderly customers stranded. Their insistence that these customers could switch to mobile and online banking was given as much credit as it deserved.

As we reported recently, RBS posted three times as much profit as the previous year. This, combined with the majority public stake in the bank, and the fact that it was saved after the financial crisis its own executives had a key role in creating, has led to widespread scorn.

Ultimately, banks are not just private businesses when they are too big to fail, and abandoning customers in inaccessible areas is not tenable. Either banks are allowed to collapse, or they must perform a public service, even if it eats into their margins. McEwan did not suggest returning the £45 billion bailout package, though he promised that after this round of closures the issue would be closed until 2020.

Campaigners have also written to the Equality and Human Rights Commission to ask if the bank closures are legal under the Equalities Act of 2010.

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