The future of banking services in our communities was on the agenda in Parliament this week as MPs debated the effects of bank closures across the UK.
Local MP Jonathan Edwards was one of a handful of members that stayed down in London on Thursday to discuss the future of banking services.
He told fellow MPs that of all the commercial banks operational within the British State, by his calculations, there would now only be three full time banks in his constituency, covering the the Amman, Gwendraeth, Tywi and Teifi valleys.
Speaking in the Commons the Plaid Cymru MP said "the status quo is not tenable", referring to the loss of 53% of bank branches across the UK over the last 20 years. "Unless we have a radical shake up of our banking model", Mr Edwards said, "we will lose 100% of these in no time."
Offering a solution, the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP outlined three strands the UK Government should take on board in order to preserve banking services.
Speaking in the debate, Jonathan Edwards MP said:
"First of all, we need a US-style Communities Reinvestment Act to ensure that commercial banks have to invest their vast resources geographically and equitably. It is deeply regrettable that we have to force banks to stop concentrating on socially useless investments in the City of London, but unless we do, we will only see the deepening of the sectoral and geographical wealth inequalities in the economy.
"Secondly, we need the protection and enhancement of Post Office financial services, so that post offices can operate as all-inclusive providers and community banking hubs. For that to bear fruit, we must ensure that the obsession of successive British Governments with rationalising the network is resisted.
"Thirdly, given that the British Government own 73% of RBS—which, in turn, owns NatWest—surely one option would be to change the business model and use that ready-made network. It appears, however, that the UK Treasury's priority is to support bank closures and to prepare RBS for sale to City investors, but that would be an enormous missed opportunity given that we, the public, own a large share of that bank.
"Another option, put forward by my constituency colleague, Adam Price, in the Welsh National Assembly, would be for the Welsh Government to step into the breach by developing a network under a Welsh public bank brand.
"The consequence of doing nothing is that we will be exposing taxpayers to yet another banking bail out, and the grotesque geographical wealth inequalities within the British state will continue."