Wales tops table for UK bank branch closures

Man stood at Santander cash machines in Cardiff, Wales Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Wales has lost more than 200 bank branches since 2015

Wales has topped the UK table for bank closures - losing 43% of branches on its high streets, according to the consumer experts Which?

Some parts of Wales have lost 80% of their banks since 2015 - with two constituencies - Ogmore and Clwyd South left with just a single branch each.

The north-west of England has lost 40% of its banks, while in Scotland 38% have shut and Northern Ireland 29%

Which? warned communities face losing access to vital financial services.

In June, the group warned assembly members that Wales had witnessed 216 bank closures over a four-year period.

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Media captionBusinesses and shoppers are struggling to find cash

Across the whole of the UK, Which? said its research revealed there were 3,303 bank branch closures between January 2015 and August 2019.

This represents 34% of all branches - one-in-three banks closing their doors for the final time.

"Banks are closing their branches at an alarming rate, which risks shutting many people out of vital financial services and affecting their ability to access their own cash," said Which? money editor, Jenny Ross.

Which? recently wrote to UK Chancellor Sajid Javid calling for action to guarantee people's ability to access and pay with cash.

"The industry must ensure no-one is left behind by the digital transition and that when banks shut their doors, they don't shut their customers out of important banking services," added Ms Ross.

NatWest cash machines

in Wales since 2015

  • 43%branches shut

  • 80%in Carmathen East & Dinefwr - only three remain

  • 1 branchleft in Clwyd South and Ogmore

  • 2 branchesleft in Rhondda and Newport East

Source: Which?

The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr constituency tops the Welsh table for closures, losing 80% of its banks, with just three branches to serve a population of 71,000 people.

Both Rhondda and Newport East only have two banks each remaining.

According to the consumer outfit, RBS group's NatWest shut 638 branches, while sister bank RBS closed 412 - that is 74% of all RBS group UK banks.

Lloyds Bank closed just over 400 branches, Santander closed nearly 300, while the Co-op lost 152.

UK Finance, which represents banking interests, said consumers are choosing new ways to bank, using technology.

But it said it was working to ensure everyone has access to cash and said decisions to close a bank branch were "never taken lightly".

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