Credit Unions could be key to community banking say Pontypridd’s MP and AM

Just before Christmas, the Royal Bank of Scotland announced that it was to close 20 of its NatWest branches in Wales, including those in Treforest and Talbot Green.

Pontypridd’s Member of Parliament and Assembly Member have hit out at the decision by the publicly-owned bank and have highlighted the devastating impact this could have upon the communities; particularly the poorest people and small businesses.

The Labour representatives believe there is an alternative to the big high street banks that could preserve community banking and support work to improve financial inclusion and they’re seeking the backing of the Welsh Government.

Owen Smith MP said:
“The latest round of bank closures were a body blow for the communities of Treforest and Talbot Green.  These decisions are taken by large financial institutions with little or no interest in the communities they serve.

“Thankfully, there are financial institutions who put the needs of their local community at the very heart of their activities: credit unions.

“The Welsh Government has a proud track record of supporting credit unions in Wales and we think there is scope to go a step further.

“Very few credit unions currently offer services other than savings and low-cost loans.  We believe that, with Welsh Government support, credit unions could in future offer current accounts allowing people to truly bank in their local community; as already happens with credit unions such as the London Mutual Credit Union.”

Mick Antoniw AM said:

“We cannot rely on this Conservative UK Government to legislate to ensure banks retain a high street presence, so credit unions represent a potential solution.

“We want to see the Welsh Government build on its support for credit unions and provide much-needed new services.   Not only would this allow residents to manage their finances locally, but their money would be held by an organisation that exists to benefit their members; not shareholders.

“That’s why Owen and I have written to the Minister for Housing and Regeneration, Rebecca Evans AM, outlining our proposals and seeking her assistance.

“This isn’t a quick fix, but with the support of our Welsh Government we could secure the future of community banking and transform the way we support the least well off in our society.”