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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5W-16023: Neil Findlay (Lothian)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 18 April 2018

To ask the Scottish Government, in light of its news release of 2 December 2017, RBS branch closures, what it considers the "guaranteed minimum level of service provision for essential banking services" should be, and whether this includes setting a minimum number of (a) days and (b) hours that mobile banking services should offer to areas that have no access to physical branches.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 2 May 2018

The regulation of financial services, including banking remains reserved and the Scottish Government is unable to impose a minimum level service provision for essential banking services. Nonetheless, the Scottish Government is working with the Scottish banks and has had constructive discussions on the banking sector in Scotland. These discussions are continuing.

The Scottish Government believes that banking is an essential service and that collectively the banks, governments and regulators have a duty to ensure that banking services remain accessible to all. A minimum level of service provision cannot, and should not, be a one size fits all directive. Different communities will have different requirements based on a range of factors including, but not limited to, location, demographic characteristics and relative rurality of tier, population, ease of travel, and availability of alternative local services. As a minimum, the Scottish Government believes that the banks should commit to work with the local communities they serve to establish a range of delivery channels that best meets the needs of their customers, including access to local, physical banking services especially in respect of discussions that require sensitivity, such as financial matters arising from bereavement, family dissolution, redundancy.

Mobile banking services are an essential service for many communities, providing life-line access to banking services in the absence of physical branches. While decisions on timetables and frequency of service are made on a commercial basis, the banks must be mindful of the importance their customers place on these services and should carefully consider the impact of any changes to the provision of such services, actively consulting with their customers before such changes are announced.