Unite anger as RBS ‘turns its back on communities’

Unite anger as RBS ‘turns its back on communities’

23 March 2017

Unite, the country’s largest union has expressed anger over plans by RBS Group to cut even more branches across the UK as it renewed calls for a moratorium on branch closures.

The bank, majority owned by the UK government, today (Thursday 23 March) announced that it plans to close 158 branches across Britain, on top of the 86 announced late last year. Some 925 staff will be affected, with 472 full-time equivalent jobs at risk.

Across England and Wales, a total of 128 branches are affected – mostly branded NatWest. In Scotland, 30 branches branded RBS are on the hit list.

Unite acting general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The RBS Group is turning its back on the communities that have been the foundation of its business for generations. That’s bad news for our members who now have to live with the threat of redundancy – and it’s bad news for customers and businesses. 

“Banks have a duty to the wider community and that is especially the case for banks like RBS that have large taxpayer-owned shareholdings. 

“People like the face-to-face contact that having a physical presence in the high street provides. Pensioners, people with mobility issues, and those without internet access are being particularly hard-hit – especially in rural areas. Small businesses are also badly affected – especially those that rely on cash-handing.

“It’s time for banking regulators and government to intervene, to force banks to maintain an adequate network that properly serves communities across the UK.”

Unite says survey after survey have found that the majority of people believe convenient local branches are essential or very important to them.

And the union also points to research from campaign group Move Your Money, which found that the closure of a branch affects the amount of money loaned to small businesses in the surrounding area – with lending growth 63 per cent less in the postcodes that lose a bank branch. This figure grows to 104 per cent for postcodes that lose their last branch in town. 


For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869. 

Notes to editors

Further details of research on the effect of bank branch closures on customers and local businesses can be found in the House of Commons Library Briefing Paper ‘Bank Branch Closures’

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.