Rural Galloway concerned over RBS cashpoint freeze

RBS will impose withdrawal restrictions on certain account users from October
RBS will impose withdrawal restrictions on certain account users from October

THOUSANDS of Royal Bank of Scotland customers in Galloway are set to be “banned” from using rival-owned cash points from October.

RBS announced last week that it plans to put restrictions on basic current account holders from using any non-RBS, Ulster or Natwest cash point, leaving most people in the Machars facing a trip to Newton Stewart for cash.

The restrictions extend to those travelling abroad, so only cash machines outside the UK and Gibraltar which display the Visa logo can be used, but the owners of these cash machines may still charge fees. Cash can be withdrawn from Post Office counters but these are only open during working hours.

The bank, which is 83 percent owned by taxpayers, claims it can no longer justify the costs involved in customers using other cash points.

The only RBS-owned cash points in Galloway are Stranraer, Newton Stewart, Kirkcudbright and Castle Douglas – and there are no guarantees they are always in operation.

Local MP Russell Brown said the bank was targeting vulnerable people. “This is a thinly-veiled, cynical attempt by RBS to push people towards fee-paying accounts. RBS is cruelly targeting the most vulnerable people by saying unless they upgrade their account they will be shut out of 80 percent of the free cash machines in the UK. People with basic accounts usually don’t have good financial track records and are often the most vulnerable. Rather than throwing up obstacles to people getting on with their daily lives, RBS, which was bailed out by the taxpayer, should be seeking to support people who are trying to make themselves more financially secure.”

A spokesman for RBS said the company has to pay a fee each time a rival cash point is used by one of its customers. “It is unsustainable for us to offer access to other banks’ ATMs for basic account holders,” he said. “We face a charge for every transaction and we have to re-coup it elsewhere.”

SNP MSP Aileen McLeod was also outraged. She said: “This is disgraceful. RBS is deliberately making life difficult for basic bank account customers who wish to upgrade to a current account that doesn’t prevent them from using other banks’ cash machines, but which doesn’t charge a monthly fee. If you want to do that, you have to make a new application and your bank account details will change, so every regular payment in and out of your account will have to be changed too. Those prepared to pay RBS a monthly fee will encounter no such difficulties.

“It’s clear RBS has some explaining to do. I’ll be writing to the chief executive of RBS to ask him to explain this, and the additional issues I have uncovered. This was the wrong decision in the first place, and it is being implemented in the wrong way. RBS needs to reconsider this urgently.”

Lucy McTernan, chief executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, said a report into the banking industry last year had revealed that one in 10 Scots does not have a bank account – despite two-thirds having tried to apply to open one. She said: “The whole point of basic bank accounts is that they tend to be used by people who are financially vulnerable.

“The principle behind them is they should enable the person to manage their money in a straightforward and practical way. They should be accessible and easy to use.”

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