News that 20 banks across Wales are to be closed in 2018 has sparked criticism from the Farmers’ Union of Wales, who describe the closures as devastating news for rural businesses.
The NatWest bank branches facing closure are Porthcawl, Whitchurch in Cardiff, Llandaff in Cardiff, Pembroke, Treforest Estate, Ammanford, University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, Cardigan, Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan, Dolgellau, Chepstow, Lampeter, Maesteg, Pencoed, Llandeilo, Rumney in Cardiff, Milford Haven, Talbot Green, Mumbles in Swansea and Narberth.
FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “The closure of those 20 banks will have a detrimental effect on the towns, as they serve not only villages but many of the neighbourhoods in surrounding areas, as well as providing employment to local people.
“These banks are 70% owned by the UK taxpayer, so we have to ask why are there no conditions to the bailout that guarantees access to such services. It is clear that Governments must do more for rural Wales.”
In addition the FUW is concerned that internet banking is still not option in all rural areas across Wales as many people will not have an appropriate internet connection- if they have a connection at all, and others may be worried about banking online for cyber security reasons.
“We have run cyber security workshops in co-operation with Barclays bank over the past few months, which should help our members become more savvy internet bankers, however the problem of internet access remains a huge problem for these rural areas.
“With more and more rural services and businesses being closed down, we must also acknowledge that it is becoming less and less attractive for young families and indeed business owners to remain in rural areas.
“If the problem of rural depopulation is not addressed with some urgency it could have severe consequences for our rural communities and with that also our rural economy.
“It is clear that if we want to ensure that Wales develops its full potential in being a rural economic powerhouse, we must make it attractive for working families to stay and also encourage vital services like business banking to remain available,” added Mr Roberts.