Plaid Cymru politicians Adam Price AM and Jonathan Edwards MP have taken the lead on calls for a public banking model in the aftermath of yet more bank branch closures in rural communities.
Assembly Member Mr Price secured a Topical Question in the National Assembly for Wales where he questioned the Welsh Government's Finance Secretary on a report by the Public Policy Institute for Wales into establishing a Welsh public bank.
Plaid's Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Adam Price, told the Minister that that five of the 10 areas that have faced the greatest number of branch closures are in Wales, and that 186 bank branches will have closed in Wales following the most recent announcements.
In Westminster, Plaid's Treasury spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP has made a formal request to the Chair of Parliament's Treasury Select Committee to hold an inquiry into the extent of the financial exclusion that has been caused by the unprecedented rate of bank branch closures in recent years. Mr Edwards said it is the role to the Committee to hold the Treasury to account.
Commenting after his Topical Question, the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr AM, Adam Price said:
"In response to Plaid Cymru's debate in February, held after the last round of bank branch closures, the Welsh Government's Cabinet Secretary for the Economy commissioned a much needed report by the Public Policy Institute for Wales to assess the benefits to our communities of the creation of a People's Bank.
"This has now been sat on his desk gathering dust for months while our towns are stripped of their essential financial services.
"I specifically brought the question to Assembly chamber this week to give the Welsh Government the opportunity to tell us how it will act on that report. In response, however, the Labour Minister preferred to pass the buck to the post office and credit unions.
"This is not another issue that can be solved with a sticking plaster. The Welsh Government must offer the people of Wales greater security and certainty when dealing with their finances. Based on this week's performance, it is clear that the Labour Welsh Government is simply not up to that job."
Member of Parliament Jonathan Edwards said:
"We must build a publicly-owned community banking system, not only to provide day-to-day banking services, but to provide the financial floor to underpin local economies.
"The UK Treasury admits it has a duty to ensure that everyone has access to the banking services they need. Yet it now sits back, allows banks to close branches at a rate of knots and treat rural communities with contempt. In Wales alone we will have seen close to 200 bank branches close.
"I believe the Treasury Select Committee should launch an inquiry to assess the access to retail financial services and the effect the branch closure programmes over a number of years have had on financial exclusion.
"It is the role of the parliament to hold the Treasury to account when it fails to do its job. This is clearly one of those occasions."