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Number of bank branches down by a third, figures show

The number of cashpoint, bank and building society branch closures in Scotland has been revealed Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA

More than a third of Scottish bank branches have closed in the last eight years, according to research by Which?

The number of bank and building society branches across the country has fallen from 1,625 to 1,015 between 2010 and 2018.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that Edinburgh was most affected by branch closures.

Ranked by constituency, Edinburgh South West lost the most, with 135 closures, leaving the area down to just 30 remaining branches open in 2018.

Glasgow Central, which lost 70, had the second-highest number of closures, followed by Edinburgh North & Leith, and Edinburgh East, with 65 and 45 respectively.

Meanwhile, Angus, Dundee West, Falkirk and Paisley & Renfrewshire North all lost 15 branches.

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Cashpoint closures have also risen, with 290 ATMs shutting in Scotland in the last year alone. Of these closures, 204 were free to use.

Ahead of Tuesday’s Scottish Affairs Committee discussion in Westminster about access to cash, Which? is calling on the UK Government to give a single regulator a duty to protect access to cash.

Gareth Shaw, Which? head of money, said: “These ongoing closures could have a huge impact on communities across Scotland, stripping millions of people reliant on cash of their ability to go about their daily lives.

“Cash is also a vital back-up when digital systems fail – so the UK Government must appoint a regulator to oversee these changes and ensure no-one is shut out from paying for local goods and services.”

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Tracking of branch closures carried out by Which? found that, since 2015, RBS has closed most branches – shutting 158 of the 399 sites that have disappeared.

It is followed by Bank of Scotland with 86 closures, Clydesdale with 59, Santander on 38 and TSB, which shut 35.

Commenting on the findings, the Scottish Government’s public finance & digital economy minister Kate Forbes said: “Cash payments remain an essential part of day-to-day life for many, especially for vulnerable consumers and those in rural communities.

“The recent loss of free-to-use ATMs, on top of the wave of bank branch closures across the UK, has hit Scotland’s communities and businesses disproportionately hard.

“I have written to the Economic Secretary to the Treasury supporting Which?’s campaign calling for a single regulator with the duty to protect access to cash, ensuring that cash remains accessible to all.

“I urge the UK Government to continue to press the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) to use its powers in a robust and proportionate way, ensuring that cash remains a viable part of the financial infrastructure across the UK.”