Taxpayer-owned RBS the worst bank for branch closures

October 30, 2015

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  • Taxpayer-owned RBS responsible for 1 in 3 UK branch closures between 2014-2015
  • More than half (55%) of last bank in town closures are of RBS & NatWest branches
  • RBS & NatWest “abandoning communities” and “creating credit deserts”

The Royal Bank of Scotland, which includes NatWest, is the worst UK bank for branch closures new analysis reveals today. [1]

The taxpayer-owned bank shut 385 branches between 2014-2015, more than one third of the total of 1150 closures across the UK.

In addition, 165 of these closures were the “last bank in town”, leaving those communities without a bank at all. In total, 301 branch closures were the last bank in town, making RBS responsible for more than half (55%) of all last bank in town closures over the last two years – despite the bank promising never to close the last bank in town.

Releasing the analysis, Fionn Travers-Smith, Campaign Manager for Move Your Money, said:

“Closing branches cuts people off from their own money, and undermines jobs and communities by starving businesses of both cash and credit.

“We own NatWest & RBS, so they should work for us. Instead, the bank is abandoning the very communities and people that saved it when it was on its knees, and who rely on its services.”

The news comes on the same day as RBS released its Q2 figures, which show that the retail section of the bank, which owns and operates branches, is running a profit.

“Today’s figures make a mockery of the bank’s claim that keeping branches open isn’t financially viable,” Fionn Travers-Smith continued.

“Bank branches create and sustain wealth and jobs in rural areas. By abandoning communities RBS is creating credit deserts across the UK, and concentrating even more wealth in London and the Southeast”. [2]

The figures come to light a week before a backbench debate on the future of the taxpayer’s majority ownership of the Royal Bank of Scotland, where MPs and campaigners are due to call for the bank to be restructured to serve local and regional economies. [3]

“The public does not support Osborne’s reckless RBS firesale, and instead agrees that we should use our ownership of the bank to make it serve the people and communities that it is instead choosing to abandon. We own RBS & NatWest, so they should work for us,” Fionn Travers-Smith said in advance of the debate.

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Fionn Travers-Smith is available for comment and interview at
0300 321 4324 and Fionn@moveyourmoney.org.uk

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[1] Move Your Money analysis has established that RBS, which includes NatWest, is responsible for 33% of all branch closures and 55% of all “Last Bank in Town” closures between 2014-2015.

This was done by dividing the number of RBS-specific closures, confirmed by Unite the Union, by the total number of branch closures in the UK, as documented by the Campaign for Community Banking Services “Branch Network Reduction – 2015” report http://www.communitybanking.org.uk/report-reduction-2015.htm

2014 2015 Total
All Closures 500 650 1150
RBS & NatWest Closures 243 142 385
LBiT Closures 124 177 301
RBS & NatWest LBiT Closures 116 49 165
% All Closures are LBiT 0.25 0.27 0.26
% All Closures are RBS & NatWest 0.49 0.22 0.33
% LBiT Closures are RBS & NatWest 0.94 0.28 0.55

 

In total, 1,500 UK communities now have no bank at all.

[2] 34% of SME lending by RBS is made to businesses in London and the Southeast.

RBS Postcode Lending Data – http://www.rbs.com/news/2014/07/postcode-lending-data—rbs.html

[3] The backbench debate is scheduled for the Commons morning session on Thursday 5th.

The substantive motion reads: “That this House calls on the Government to consider suspending the further sale of its shares in the Royal Bank of Scotland whilst it looks at alternative options; believes that this should take place in the context of a wider review of the UK’s financial sector; and believes that such a review should consider the case for establishing new models of banking, including regional banks.”

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