WORKING alongside a cross-party delegation of MPs representing rural constituencies, Ceredigion MP Ben Lake has met with the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, to discuss rural branch closures and make the case for innovative solutions such as community banking hubs.

These discussions form part of Mr Lake’s efforts to introduce a Bill in Parliament that will ensure that customers are not left without basic financial services when faced with local bank closures.

In 2018, RBS closed NatWest branches in Lampeter and Cardigan. Llandysul and Newcastle Emlyn now have no bank branches and Aberaeron’s last bank branch (Barclays) is set to close on May 31.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Lake said: “More than 2,800 community bank branches across the UK have closed their doors in the last four years alone.

“This is a hugely pressing issue, and with countless towns and villages now without a single branch, it is our rural communities that have been hit the hardest.

“Unfortunately, many of the measures intended to offset the effects of bank branches closing – such as transferring responsibility for banking services to the Post Office, online banking, and mobile branches – have their own challenges, and are not always appropriate solutions. Customers and communities are losing out as a result.

“The concept of hubs whereby different banks agree to co-locate services in rural areas is one that commands widespread support, and the announcement of a six-month pilot of six business banking hubs in England is promising.

“What now needs to happen is a trial in rural areas of sub hubs for both personal and business banking services, and I shall be pressing for this to happen alongside colleagues at Westminster.

“The Government has a vital role to play in encouraging banks to explore these alternative options and ensure that they meet their obligation to deliver support and services to all those who need them, wherever they live.”