THE huge impact of the closure of bank branches particularly in rural areas has been spelled out in a survey conducted by the Welsh Assembly.

The Senedd’s Economy, Infrastructure and Skills committee’s Access to Banking survey has highlighted the problems being faced by both businesses and individual customers alike.

Among the survey’s results:

  • 87 per cent of respondents said they have been impacted by bank branch closures
  • 36 per cent reported that branch closures had increased their banking journey time by 30 minutes
  • 40 per cent said that regular access to a mobile bank branch would help but was not the answer, with 71 per cent either very dissatisfied or dissatisfied with the mobile service offered
  • 59 per cent said that branch closures had led to empty/deteriorating buildings on the high street
  • 29 per cent said it now takes up to an additional 60 minutes to access a bank branch

The highest percentage of respondents came from rural counties – Powys (19 per cent), Ceredigion (14 per cent) and Carmarthenshire (12 per cent).

One respondent said: “I have banked at Lloyd's Newcastle Emlyn for 35years. I was assured by bank staff that the branch would not close and that they had been upgraded in status. Within a year the

closure was announced.

"I have no confidence that banks can be trusted in the way that I used to feel they could be. I no longer feel like a valued customer being provided with a service, but more like a nuisance because I am a human being.”

Both Llandysul and Newcastle Emlyn are now without high street banks, while NatWest also closed its Cardigan branch last year.

The issue was recently raised at a meeting of Newcastle Emlyn Town Council, where a lack of ATM machines and the restricted availability of cash was discussed.

Ceredigion MP Ben Lake is behind 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.

He has also met with Government ministers to discuss possible solutions such as community banking hubs.

Mr Lake said: “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 – are not always appropriate solutions. Customers and communities are losing out as a result.”

In response to the survey, Gareth Shaw, Which? head of money, said: “People across Wales are being forced to travel long distances just to access vital banking services and cash due to the double blow of bank branch and cashpoint closures.

“The UK and Welsh government must explore all options for protecting cash - including legislation - for as long as this payment method is needed.”

Results on the Access to Banking by the Welsh Assembly's Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee are available at