Ged Killen MP has criticised banks who were bailed out by the tax payer for closing local branches. The Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP was speaking in a Westminster Hall debate on the responsibility of banks to the communities they serve.
Before entering Parliament, Ged Killen MP ran a small construction firm and which depended on local bank branches to thrive. Mr Killen said:
“From my own experience, I know how important it is to build that trusting relationship with your bank from the beginning, and there really is no other way to do that than old-fashioned face-to-face contact.
“It’s likely that these small businesses will receive less money to set up their business and essential in-branch transactions will take more time and be less accessible to those who find it difficult to travel. Banks draw people to the high street, retail businesses are already struggling to survive. Any decline in footfall and a reduction in the availability of free-to-use ATM machines for customers to withdraw cash could well be the final straw for many small retail businesses.
“Local economies will suffer and those most at risk of financial exclusion will find it more and more difficult to manage their money in safe and secure ways.”
The Scottish Labour MP argued that local bank branches are part of the infrastructure of local economies. Mr Killen argued that access to retail banking is as much a part of the economic infrastructure as internet access or transport links. Ged Killen MP said:
“As someone who used to run a small business, I can tell the Government that local bank branches are not just private companies but serve as essential utilities to the communities in which they are based. An easily available and well run local bank branch has all the productivity benefits of good roads and a reliable internet connection.
“It is important that we view local branches not just as commercial enterprises but essential local utilities that play an important role in supporting local economies.”
Ged Killen MP continued:
“Communities rely on banks, but that relationship is two-way. When the banks got into trouble, it was taxpayers in our local communities who stepped in to save them. What a dreadful way this is to repay them.”