RBS to Close 18 Branches Across Scotland

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), a subsidiary of the NatWest Group, has announced plans to shut down 18 out of its 86 branches across Scotland, leading to the loss of 105 jobs. The closures will leave 69 branches operational, with the bank committing to invest over £10 million in these remaining branches. The decision comes as RBS observes a decline in branch usage by customers, attributing it to the increasing preference for digital banking services.

The affected branches include three in Edinburgh, three in Glasgow, as well as locations in Bathgate, East Kilbride, Helensburgh, Largs, Aberdeen, New Deer, and Inverness. However, RBS intends to consolidate the two branches closing in Inverness into a new flagship branch.

According to RBS, over 80% of its active current account holders are now utilising digital banking services. In response to this trend, the bank is focusing on enhancing its digital infrastructure, acknowledging the industry-wide shift towards online banking. While emphasising the importance of its branch network, RBS highlighted its ongoing investment in digital banking solutions.

A spokesperson for RBS stated, “While we are increasingly engaging our customers digitally, our branch network remains important to us.” The bank is allocating £10.5 million for network improvements across Scotland and continues to invest in alternative solutions such as the Post Office and banking hubs. The spokesperson emphasised that customers value the convenience of digital banking for routine transactions but often seek guidance from bank staff for more complex financial matters.

Currently employing around 10,000 people in Scotland, RBS has assured that there will be no further branch closures until 2026. However, the decision to close branches has drawn criticism from Unite the union, with Esther O’Hara, Unite’s industrial officer, expressing concerns about the impact on both employees and communities. O’Hara emphasised the importance of avoiding compulsory redundancies and ensuring continued access to banking services, particularly in rural and remote areas.

The closures are scheduled for September, affecting branches in Aberdeen, Bathgate, Cumbernauld, Dundee, East Kilbride, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Helensburgh, Inverness, Largs, New Deer, and Newbridge. This move adds to the ongoing trend of bank closures across Scotland, with 636 banks and building societies shutting down since 2015, representing more than a 60% reduction in just nine years.

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