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3 August 2018

Banking Study Could Show Way Forward For Services - Stevenson

A study into the importance of local banking services in rural areas which recommends a ‘whole system response’ to meeting the banking needs of communities and businesses could show the way forward according to local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson.

The study was commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) amid a growing trend of rural bank branch closures.

The report says banking facilities need to be understood as core to local community infrastructure. It added that there is a disconnect between local bank closures and efforts to strengthen and grow local economies.

Access to cash remains fundamental to the viability of small retail businesses, prominent in rural areas. This is especially in relation to tourism, where successes in generating income within fragile communities could be hit by the loss of access to cash via local banks.
Commenting on the report, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The recent round of bank branch closures we’ve seen have started hitting large towns, such as Fraserburgh, Buckie and Banff that most people would have assumed were safe from such closures.

“Online banking, Post Office banking and mobile bank vans go some way to providing alternatives but can only go so far. One of the recommendations of this report is a “collaborative approach” to ensuring communities are not “unbanked”. This would involve a range of partners including the banks, the Post Office and local authorities in a service point-type provision which would ensure that a physical presence remains within communities.

“It’s a proposal which is very much worth investigating further. In the meantime however, I would urge people affected by bank branch closures to support their local Post Office and those banks which still remain within their community.”

Stewart Stevenson
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