More than 60% of bank branches in Scotland have closed in a nine-year period, figures show, as Labour pledged to prevent further high street “decline”.
The latest figures published by Which? reveal 636 banks and building societies will have closed by the end of the year since 2015, leaving 404 branches open across Scotland.
Scotland was the first part of the UK to see more than half of its banks close, according to Which?.
Labour’s shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds said his party’s plans could see at least 350 “banking hubs” established on Scottish high streets, to allow people to deposit and withdraw cash and get financial advice.
The hubs would be shared among the major banks, meaning customers from 10 different banks can use them.
Mr Reynolds said areas that do not currently have high street banks will be first in line for the service if Labour wins the general election expected next year.
He said: “Labour back Scotland’s high streets and that’s why we will make sure every community has access to high street banking services.
“Under the Conservatives and the SNP, our high streets have been allowed to fall into decline, with more and more high street anchors like banks closing.
“Labour will put an end to boarded up premises and ghost high streets with our plan to bring banks back to the high street, fix business rates, tackle empty properties and get police back on the beat on your high street.”
Scottish Labour economy spokesman Daniel Johnson said the collapse of local banking services has been a “major blow” for communities and businesses, adding: “The SNP and the Tories have let Scotland’s high streets decline and failed to prevent the loss of vital local services.
“The next Labour government will reverse these damaging trends by rolling out banking hubs across Scotland and ensuring people can access the services they need close to home.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said:“The Scottish Government recognises the importance of bank branches to local communities and we share their concerns.
“We are working to establish if UK Government and industry initiatives (such as the BankHUB run by the Post Office where banks take turn to provide services) are sufficient to maintain access to cash and banking services in Scotland.
“The regulation of financial services is reserved to the UK Government. The Scottish Government is unable to intervene on the commercial decisions made by financial services companies.”
The UK government have been approached for comment.