At the end of the year an independent review will be carried out into the use of these branches and whether they should be kept open or not. The vast majority of these branches are in communities where there is no other Royal Bank branch within a nine mile radius.
As part of the package of support the Royal Bank of Scotland will look to open new branches across Scotland, improve ATM accessibility for all communities affected by the closures, review opening hours of remaining branches, and work with communities to give empty branches to local community groups for free.
The total package includes:
1. Branches: Royal Bank of Scotland will keep ten branches open (Biggar, Beauly, Castlebay/Barra, Comrie, Douglas, Gretna, Inveraray, Melrose, Kyle, Tongue) until the end of 2018. Should any of these branches see sustainable transactional increases and viable new income over this period, then the bank will reconsider the closure of the relevant branch as part of a full independent review.
2. Branch buildings: Where Royal Bank of Scotland owns the building and where there is no demand for a building, the bank will work with development trusts and local communities to transfer ownership of a building to a community for free if there is a viable and deliverable three-year business case. As part of the proposal if the community venture fails within those three years, then the ownership of the building will remain with the Royal Bank of Scotland. Where possible the bank will also donate all suitable branch furniture and other suitable equipment to local organisations for free.
3. Digital Access: In response to concerns over digital access Royal Bank of Scotland will work with a small number of communities across Scotland to support the digital adoption of contactless terminals for local Royal Bank of Scotland business customers and will seek to offer free initial contracts. The bank will also give free digital devices to a small number of high-use, regular branch customers affected by branch closures, who have no access to a nearby branch where they can bank online. The bank will also ensure access to training if necessary from its TechXperts in local areas affected and will also work with BT and other local partners to explore improving broadband options in these local communities.
4. ATM Access: On access to ATMs Royal Bank of Scotland will ensure it does not remove, or will replace at a suitable nearby location, the branch ATM if there is no other free-to-use ATM within 1km of the closing branch.
5. Branch Access: Royal Bank of Scotland will undertake a review of the opening hours of all receiving branches to ensure that, where there is reasonable demand, they are open at appropriate times.
6. Opening New Branches: Royal Bank of Scotland will continue to invest in its remaining branch network and look to open branches across Scotland where it is convenient for customers and where it makes viable business sense.
7. Post Office Training and Note Fraud: In order to further support the Post Office, Royal Bank of Scotland will work with the Post Office to share its fraud and scams training with their franchisees. The bank will also supply, for free, bank-standard fraudulent note detection and cash counting machines to the nearest Post Office from a closing branch.
8. Mobile Van Service: Royal Bank of Scotland will review Mobile Van routes and times on a monthly basis and be open to suggestions of change from local communities or community representatives.
9. Alternative Ways to Bank: As planned Royal Bank of Scotland will continue to implement its strategy of providing all areas affected by branch closures with alternative ways to bank. Overall there are more ways to bank than ever before and, while this includes digital, it also includes face to face in Mobile Vans and through its Community Bankers, in Post Offices (where customers can withdraw cash, deposit cash and cheques, view balances and business customers can get coinage) telephony and through its network of ATMs.
Commenting on these changes, Managing Director for Personal Banking, Jane Howard, said:
“We are committed to ensuring our customers and communities are able to continue accessing quality banking services. Having listened to the concerns of customers, communities and elected representatives from all political parties we have decided to keep ten branches open until the end of 2018. During this period we will monitor the level of transactions and new income at each branch and if there is a sustained and viable increase in both then we will reconsider the closure of the relevant branch as part of a full independent review.
“We’ll continue to invest in our branch network and services across Scotland. We provide our customers with more ways to bank than ever before – they can choose from a range of digital, to face-to-face options, including; Mobile and Online Banking, telephone banking, video banking, Community Bankers, our mobile banks on wheels, and Post Offices”.