Plaid calls for People’s Bank to meet community needs

The National Assembly for Wales is debating the future of local banking on Wednesday as Plaid Cymru tables an official motion for debate.

The move by Plaid Cymru AMs was prompted by the latest round of local branch closures announced by HSBC which effects all corners of Wales.

The motion for debate, which will be led by Plaid Cymru Assembly Members Adam Price and Simon Thomas, calls on the Welsh Government to “examine the legislative and regulatory steps necessary to establish alternative models of banking service provision, including a Welsh People’s Bank on the model of a local savings bank.”

The debate will take place in the Senedd Chamber on Wednesday afternoon (15th February).

Plaid Cymru AM Adam Price, who is also Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, said, “As our motion indicates, it is vitally important that individuals and businesses in all communities have easy access to financial advice and banking services.  Regrettably, we are seeing the same centralisation process with the private banking sector as we’re seeing more and more in the public sector.

“Plaid Cymru recognises the tremendous challenges faced by the closure of local banks.  There has been some success in equalising the banking services available at post office counters, but this doesn’t compensate for the specialist advice and banking services which now seem an exclusive provision reserved for those in more urban areas.

“Our debate has not come a moment too soon.  Many of our communities have lost their only bank or building society.  We must take this opportunity to reverse that trend.  We believe a People’s Bank – a genuine community bank – must now be established.”

Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd added, “This year high street banks will close a branches across the North from Holyhead to Holywell.  Rural Wales and our market towns are being stripped of local bank branches.

“The Federation of Small Businesses and the Farmers’ Union of Wales have raised concerns about this culture of centralisation.

“The Party of Wales has listened, and in this parliamentary debate we promote an alternative vision of banking that does not abandon its customers.

“Plaid Cymru is calling on the Cardiff Labour Government to look at the steps needed to create a network of People’s Banks.  A Welsh public bank would co-operate, not compete with other financial providers, including the much needed Welsh Development Bank.”

 The text of the Plaid Cymru motion for debate on Wednesday is below:

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales:

1. Recognises the importance of easily accessible financial advice and banking services to individuals and businesses in all communities in Wales.

2. Regrets the closure of bank and building society branches in communities across Wales.

3. Calls on the Welsh Government to:

i) urgently explore all options to meet the financial needs of individuals and businesses in Wales; and

ii) examine the legislative and regulatory steps necessary to establish alternative models of banking service provision, including a Welsh People’s Bank on the model of local savings banks

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