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Citizens Advice condemns bank closures

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CAS says Lloyds bank closures will affect rural and vulnerable customers

A decision by Lloyds Bank to close branches in Scotland has been condemned by a leading consumer advice charity.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) condemned the decision of Lloyds Bank to abandon its pledge to keep open bank branches where it is "the last bank in town".

The charity said vulnerable customers would be especially affected, as well as those in ruiral areas and those digitally excluded.

Closures, which amount to 150 branches and 9,000 jobs over the next three years, are expected to include branches of the Bank of Scotland, which are owned by Lloyds.

We have already seen large numbers of rural bank closures over the last few years

CAS Consumer spokesman Fraser Sutherland said that as people continue to struggle to manage their finances, this decision will be “devastating” for many of the communities affected.

“We have already seen large numbers of rural bank closures over the last few years from a number of high street banks in favour of digital service provision.

“Indeed, Lloyds has announced these branch closures and staff cuts while it invests a further £1 billion in new technology."

"While more and more bank customers are using new technology manage their money, many are unable to do so, either through lack of skills or lack of access.”

Those people, he said, often include the most vulnerable consumers who still rely on having a local branch.

“It’s not just a matter of convenience or personal choice for them. It’s vital to their ability to manage their finances,” said Sutherland.

CAS said recent market research has shown that nine in 10 customers need to use a branch once a year, and half of banking customers use it once a month.

The research also shows that more 18-24 year olds are using branch services than a year ago - debunking the myth that branches are only used by the older population.