Bank Closures: a low blow to communities still trying to cope with COVID

What are people to make of the banks? The TSB’s announcement that it intends to close 73 branches, including Nairn and Grantown-on-Spey, is a low blow to communities still trying to cope with COVID.

They offered the excuse that ‘consumer habits are changing’ and they must respond – yes its that old chestnut again.

Over the years, we’ve witnessed banks of all brands cut opening hours and even operating days of the week. What follows has become predictable; the bank announces that ‘consumer habits have changed’ and the business must respond and close the branch.

It really takes the biscuit now though – of course, habits have changed in the past six months, everything has. They are simply taking advantage of the emergency in the hope that this act of corporate abandonment of communities will go unnoticed. It won’t.

What it does do, is further undermine the slim trust the public has in the banks, the same banks which relied on the public purse little over a decade ago. In their time of emergency, banks sought the support of the public and got it, yet in a public crisis, they are posted missing in action.

Westminster has had over a decade to sort this out; they could have imposed some rules on banks to ensure they cannot abandon small communities – they have chosen time and time again to do nothing. 

The UK Government is still the majority shareholder in RBS but hasn’t stopped a single RBS branch from closing. This disregard for public needs erodes trust –  a fact confirmed by the recent Scottish Public Attitudes survey.

The survey shows the Scottish public’s trust in Westminster at a miserable 15%. In contrast, 61% trust the Scottish Government, with 73% of people agreeing that Holyrood should have the most influence over the running of Scotland’s affairs.

Having spent these past weeks battling with this Tory Government over its latest power-grab ‘Internal Market Bill’, these figures were a pleasing and, given what has gone on, not unexpected, read.

Indeed, the Tories forcing through a bill that aims to strip control over standards and spending from the Scottish Parliament will, I am sure, have these numbers will be growing by the day. 

To protect what we value most, we need to have a say, and clearly, the current system isn’t working, and that is why Scotland becoming a normal independent country is now the established majority view. 

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