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Thursday, December 16, 2021

Ken Skates welcomes plans for community bank in Wales


* Ken Skates and Banc Cambria project lead Mark Hooper (second right) with small business owners in Cefn Mawr. 

Member of the Senedd for Clwyd South, Ken Skates, has welcomed the announcement that the Welsh Labour Government is working with Monmouthshire Building Society to accelerate the establishment and roll-out of a community bank across Wales. 

Welsh Labour’s manifesto for Senedd election earlier this year included a commitment to creating a community bank for Wales, supporting its growth so it can open an initial 30 branches over the next decade.  

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething has confirmed that Monmouthshire Building Society, working with the Welsh Government and Cambria Cydfuddiannol Ltd (CCL), will deliver Banc Cambria – which will aim to provide everyday full retail banking services in communities by 2023. 

The UK has one of the least diverse retail banking systems in Europe, dominated by a small number of very large banks which operate according to a shareholder-value business model, seeking to maximise profits.  

Since Welsh Ministers initially set out plans to explore the creation of a community bank for Wales, traditional high street banks have further accelerated their retreat from Wales’ high streets. 

Mr Skates, whose constituency is the worst-affected in North Wales, launched the plans for the community bank during his time as Economy Minister.  

He said: “Over the last few years, we’ve all seen the big banks leave our local communities and high streets, leaving many people without access to accessible banking services. Clwyd South has seen 80% of its high street banks close since 2015 – more than any other area of North Wales – and now has just one surviving branch. 

“I raised this issue in the Senedd earlier this year and was pleased to welcome Banc Cambria's project lead Mark Hooper to Clwyd South last month. I'm delighted that the plans are progressing at pace. 

"Unlike other banks, this will be owned and controlled by members – not outside shareholders. Communities across North Wales have been abandoned by their banks and the UK Government's scrapping of its agreement with the sector that that last branch in each community should remain open. We desperately need this. 

"Banc Cambria cannot replace the increasing number of branches closed, but will focus on communities that have lost provision. I will continue to make the case for Clwyd South. I hope this will provide a positive impact on our communities and high streets and improve access to financial help and support in locations that are convenient for the people of Clwyd South." 

Banc Cambria aims to provide full everyday banking services for individuals and small businesses, accessible by telephone, online and face-to-face. It hopes to have a customer launch during 2023.

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