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Support needed for SMEs due to bank closures

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling for more support for small businesses following bank branch closures.

The Royal Bank of Scotland announced that it would be closing 259 branches as ‘more people choose to bank online or via mobile’.

Responding to the latest round of Royal Bank Scotland (RBS) and Natwest bank branch closures, Mike Cherry,  FSB national chairman, said: “Bank branches are still vital to local economies up and down the country. Many local business communities will be disappointed to hear they are losing their bank branch today.

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“Almost all of our members are using online banking. However, small firms still hugely value the in-person support they receive at branches, particularly when it comes to completing complex transactions and making big financial decisions. For many, these are relationships that have built up over years.

“In areas of the country still blighted by poor broadband, accessing online banking is a challenge. What’s critical is that small business owners that rely on bank branches are provided with suitable alternatives well before closures happen. What we can’t have is banks shutting branches on a whim, especially at a time when plans are afoot that may diminish our cash machine network in future.

“Access to cash is a big issue here. Cash is still critical to trade in thousands of our towns and villages, especially in tourist hotspots and rural areas. More and more small firms are accepting card payments but that comes with costs they’re forced to absorb. Equally, many have customers that only deal in cash.”

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