The true scale at which banks are disappearing from Wales’ excessive streets has been revealed as new figures present 216 have been closed in the final four years.
Presenting the findings to AMs on Thursday, Thomas Docherty, of shopper group Which?, mentioned the state of affairs was of “deep concern” to “society as a whole”.
He added many banking clients have been confronted with the “double whammy” of sluggish web speeds and no branches.
The committee will make suggestions to the Welsh Authorities.
Mr Docherty was invited to present proof to the meeting’s Financial system, Infrastructure and Expertise Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into entry to banking.
“The current situation on bank services is of deep concern, not just to our members and supporters but to society as a whole,” he instructed AMs.
“Consumers in Wales spend approximately £4.5bn a month, and without that spending the Welsh economy would come to a halt.”
Whereas the variety of branches which closed final 12 months – 50 – was fewer that the 64 that closed the earlier 12 months, Wales’ excessive streets have nonetheless misplaced a mean of 54 banks yearly over the earlier four years, in accordance with Which?
‘Nail in the coffin’
Abertillery noticed its final everlasting financial institution close after Barclays determined to close its department in the Blaenau Gwent city in January.
“It is devastating, especially for old people,” mentioned former businessman Stuart Gould, 72.
“I am fortunate – I can go surfing and all of the issues that go along with it, however lots of people, particularly outdated folks and the companies, cannot. The place are they going to financial institution?
“It is one other nail in the coffin. It will get more durable and more durable for companies to open, and and not using a financial institution the place do they go?”
And companies are discovering it tough to get change, which in flip can have an effect on commerce.
“Most individuals are discovering it very irritating as a result of they can not get change wherever,” mentioned Christine Coombes, proprietor of Scooby’s Pet Provides, which operates out of a former financial institution.
“They need to stroll a good distance out of the city to go and get cash from a money machine.
“And half the time they are not working, so what do you do? You just try your best and that’s it.”
Mr Docherty mentioned he was additionally involved concerning the lack of nearly 200 free money machines throughout Wales.
The largest losers from financial institution and money machine closures, he mentioned, could be these residing in rural areas.
Mr Docherty mentioned Which? analysis discovered Brecon and Radnorshire has been the toughest hit constituency for financial institution department closures, with 14 since 2015.
On this space of Powys, Mr Docherty mentioned 40% of households couldn’t entry the minimal velocity for broadband.
“So clearly there is a double whammy of less bank branches and not being able to use alternative forms of banking services,” he added.
Its analysis confirmed NatWest has shut essentially the most branches (70) in Wales between 2015 and 2018, adopted by HSBC (46), Barclays (41) and Lloyds (27).