Colin Smyth MSP
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has welcomed the news that 13 more towns across the UK will soon see shared banking hubs developed, including Carluke and Kirkcudbright in South Scotland, but has called for more to be urgently set up.
The local MSP is a longstanding campaigner for the establishment of hubs in villages and towns that have been hit hard by bank closures and has accused the Post Office and UK Government of dragging their heels over plans for hubs despite a number of long standing pilot schemes showing their success.
Prior to the latest announcement, ten other areas were identified for Hubs but so far have yet to open.
Hubs are run by the Post Office and customers of any bank can access accounts, deposit cash and cheques, and withdraw money. Other enquiries specific to an individual bank are carried out by a representative of that bank who visits once a week.
The latest proposed hub sites include four in Scotland but Colin Smyth has said that will fail to scratch the surface of the problem of bank closures, pointing out that in South Scotland alone none of the latest hubs will be in Ayrshire, the Borders or East and Midlothian.
Commenting on the announcements, Colin Smyth said: “As a long-standing campaigner for shared hubs, I welcome this announcement but we need to go further, faster. Four planned hubs across the whole of Scotland won’t scratch the surface of the bank closure crisis we are facing, which we know is going to get worse.
“It also remains to be seen whether these hubs will ever open. A previous announcement of ten hubs across the UK has so far failed to be delivered.
“Shared hubs are no substitute for a full branch because you can only really speak to your own bank staff once a week, but they are better than no branch at all. They mean costs are shared between banks and there is no reason in my view why other services, such as those from councils, couldn’t also be provided, giving communities a one stop shop.
“If we don’t see bank hubs fully rolled out in more rural towns and villages, then the number of communities without a bank will continue to grow and grow. This would be terrible news for local businesses and other customers, especially those who don’t use online banking.
“Cash is still vital to many people, not least during the current cost of living crisis where many people are having to budget so carefully just to get by.”