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Review of rural banking hubs welcomed after wave of branch closures in Aberdeenshire

By Kyle Ritchie

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MP Andrew Bowie has welcomed a regulatory review into the rollout of rural banking hubs, following a wave of branch closures in Aberdeenshire.

The MP met UK Treasury Minister Bim Afolami to raise the challenges that rural communities face in banking and access to cash.

It follows a wave of banking closures in Mr Bowie’s West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine constituency and others, including Bank of Scotland culls in Braemar and Ballater in October.

A review of rural banking hubs has been welcomed.
A review of rural banking hubs has been welcomed.

Some 61 UK Government-backed banking hubs are planned across Britain, including nine in Scotland. However, there are none north of Perth.

Following a campaign, Mr Bowie welcomed the Financial Conduct Authority decision to change the criteria for which communities would most benefit from hub.

The review will be unveiled later this year.

Mr Bowie said: “This review is going to look at rural areas across the UK, and I believe locations like Ballater and Braemar in my constituency will benefit from this approach.

“We are at the stage now where there’s the last branch in town and hours are spotty or much reduced. Free access to cash and basic banking is now in the last chance saloon.

“More and more small businesses are forced to rely on expensive card transactions.

“Charities are losing the ability to transact in cash, and not everyone wants to or is able to use the web to look after their account.

“I will continue to advocate for our rural communities and their access to vital services like banking.”

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