Highlands & Islands

Community hub plan for rural banking

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Banks could be offered shared space in community buildings as a way of keeping banking services and staff in rural areas, a report has suggested.

The idea has been explored in a report commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) amid bank branch closures across Scotland.

The collaborative banking hubs could use existing community sites, or local authority service points.

It was also suggested that the banks could use the hubs at the same time.

The report, Access to Banking Services in Rural Areas, said sharing space would help keep down overhead costs for the banks.

It also said: "In some places this may offer a better service to the current alternatives in terms of privacy, comfort and online accessibility, especially where a Post Office or mobile bank are not locally available.

"This may provide the opportunity to create partnerships involving local authorities, the Post Office, banks, local development trusts, community organisations and credit unions to use local premises to create a 'banking hub'."

Several banks have closed rural branches in recent years.

Royal Bank of Scotland is currently having reviewed a plan to close 10 of its branches.

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