RBS at risk of breaching equality laws with ‘degrading’ mobile vans, says SNP

© PAIan Blackford
Ian Blackford

Theresa May has been told to intervene in RBS branch closures over claims alternative ways of banking are “degrading” for disabled people.

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader in Westminster, suggested the taxpayer-owned bank was in breach of equality laws by replacing the branches with mobile banks that have limited wheelchair access.

He called on Mrs May to use the government’s majority shareholding to demand the bank reverses its decision to shut 62 branches in Scotland.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Blackford said he had spoken to a wheelchair user who had described her experience of banking outside at a mobile van as “degrading”.

He added:  “I would simply say to the Prime Minister we own RBS, it’s time that you took your own responsibilities.

“By closing these branches and replacing some with mobile banking vans which do not provide disability access, the RBS appears to be in breach of the UK Equality Act.”

Mrs May told the Commons the closures are “commercial decisions” for the banks involved, adding: “Of course we all want to be able to see that all customers are able to access the services that they need, that is both customers who are disabled and customers who live in remote areas.”

The PM said an agreement with the Post Office that allowed more banking to be done there.

She added: “So around 99% of personal customers are able to carry out their day-to-day banking at a Post Office as a result of that new agreement, that’s the Government making sure that people are covered by the services they need.”

The Courier is campaigning against the closure programme, which will see RBS shut facilities in eight cities, towns and villages across Tayside and Fife.

There are also two Bank of Scotland closures in the area.