MSPs launch inquiry into bank closures across Scotland
MSPs are to examine how to tackle the "relentless decline" of banks in Scotland as more than a third have closed since 2010.
Small businesses and consumers are being asked to speak out on the impact the closures have had on local communities and economic growth.
The rate of decline across Scotland varies, with official figures indicating Edinburgh has seen the steepest drop in bank numbers, falling 60%, while other areas such as Aberdeenshire and Moray saw lesser drops of around at least 20%.
Reasons behind the overall reduction across Scotland include increased use of electronic payments, falling demand for cheques, the impact of the financial crisis and new regulatory costs hitting banks' profits.
Holyrood's Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee has launched an inquiry into the closures with a survey and a call for views from business and personal banking customers.
Committee convener Gordon Lindhurst said: "For Scotland to lose more than a third of its banks in just seven years seems a staggering statistic.
"This inquiry will work to respond to significant public concern that the impact of closures is felt most in places where no viable alternative exists.
"We are calling on small businesses and consumers to speak out on vital questions, such as: Will closures of local banks have an impact on your business? What is the impact of local ATMs closing or imposing charges for transactions? And how do bank closures impact on your local high street?
"The committee wants to know what can be done to help remedy a seemingly relentless decline in Scotland's banks.
"Crucially, what are the alternatives that can help support local businesses and communities, and enable them to thrive for the benefit of all?"
The inquiry report is expected to be published in summer.