RBS to close a fifth of branches

Royal Bank of Scotland plans to shut 18 branches across Scotland, resulting in the loss of 105 jobs. We have the full list of closures.

RBS branch in Glasgow
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) plans to close a further 18 of its 86 branches across Scotland this year, as part of an “industry-wide shift” to digital services and online banking.

An estimated 105 workers will be impacted by the bank closures.

The closures will join the 19 NatWest and RBS branches that already put their shutters down in February and March this year. 

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There are another 51 NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank branch closures scheduled for this year, which had already been announced.

In a statement, RBS said customers were using digital banking "more than ever before" with more than 80% of active current account holders using digital services.

It said there was an "industry-wide shift" to online services and investing in digital banking.

However, it maintained that “our branch network remains important to us”, and was investing £10.5 million into its remaining branches.

Esther O'Hara, industrial officer at the union Unite, called the branch closures a “massive blow” to the workforce and the communities the bank serves. “Many of these banks are situated in rural and remote communities where RBS customers rely on this vital service.”

She added: “We fear this latest announcement is just another stage in the phasing out of banks from our nation's streets in the race to make all banking operations digital, which is not suitable or accessible for many customers."

Other high-street banks are also shutting down branches, with Barclays set to close 57 branches in the next couple of years and the Lloyds Group shutting its doors to another 45 branches this year.

Meanwhile, Nationwide is set to shrink its overall branch network as a result of buying Virgin Money.

Full list of RBS closures in 2024

Here are the 18 RBS branches earmarked for closure in September:

  • Aberdeen St. Nicholas
  • Bathgate
  • Cumbernauld Tay Walk
  • Dundee Kingsway Circus
  • East Kilbride
  • Edinburgh Bruntsfield
  • Edinburgh Leith
  • Edinburgh Nicolson Street
  • Glasgow Cardonald
  • Glasgow Charing Cross West
  • Glasgow Rutherglen West
  • Helensburgh
  • Inverness Chief Office
  • Inverness Eastgate
  • Largs
  • New Deer
  • Newbridge
  • Wishaw

RBS is also set to shut its Farnborough branch on 15 October, as previously announced.

How to access your money if a branch has closed near you

If your bank has closed or is about to close the branch near you, it could be worth switching bank accounts to a provider that has a branch close by.

You may also be able to take advantage of a switching bonus - in other words, free money - by moving your current account.

If you're keen to stay with your bank or building society though, there are other ways to access the money in your account. 

About 11,500 Post Office branches across the UK offer banking services, such as paying in and withdrawing cash, depositing cheques and checking your balance. 

Banking hubs are also on the rise. You can use the hubs for personal banking, for example. depositing or withdrawing money, business banking and making bill payments. 

RBS said it was “continuing to invest in shared solutions like the Post Office and banking hubs” when it announced its branch closures yesterday.

The Post Office operates the service and the hubs are open Monday to Friday. They also provide separate rooms for more private matters. 

Currently, there are 37 banking hubs open across the UK.

“No regard for the workforce and the customers”

Unite also criticised the NatWest Group, which owns RBS, in light of it being partly owned by the taxpayer.

O'Hara said: “The Natwest Group is an extremely profitable bank with its latest pre-tax profits rising by 20% to £6.2 billion last year. It remains a bank which the taxpayer still owns by around 35 per cent, yet there is very little return for the public and no regard for the workforce and the customers the bank is supposed to serve.”

The government is planning to sell off part of its stake in NatWest this summer, possibly as early as June.

It means the retail offer, open to ordinary investors, would take place before the general election.

Ruth Emery
Contributing editor

Ruth is passionate about helping people feel more confident about their finances. She was previously editor of Times Money Mentor, and prior to that was deputy Money editor at The Sunday Times. 

A multi-award winning journalist, Ruth started her career on a pensions magazine at the FT Group, and has also worked at Money Observer and Money Advice Service. 

Outside of work, she is a mum to two young children, a magistrate and an NHS volunteer.