First Minister backs creating a ‘community bank for Wales’
Mark Drakeford has backed creating a “community bank for Wales”.
The First Minister said the Welsh Government “committed to supporting the creation” of one that is “headquartered here in Wales” and is “run for the benefit of its members”.
He also took aim at “mainstream financial institutions”, which have ditched Welsh high streets, leaving them “bereft of facilities on which many people have relied”.
Drakeford was responding to a question from Alun Davies, the Labour MS for Blaenau Gwent, who asked if him that if moving forward with the launch of Banc Cambria “as a national community bank in Wales” was a “priority” during a debate in the Senedd.
Davies said: “I recently met with Mark Hooper from Banc Cambria in Abertillery to discuss the availability of banking facilities in different parts of our communities. The Welsh Government has restated today, in its statement on the programme for government, its commitment to community banking.
“Would the First Minister agree with me that the priority for community banking and taking forward the launch of Banc Cambria, as a national community bank in Wales, is to ensure that people across the whole country have access to financial services in their own communities, and that some of our most deprived communities have banking and financial services available to them with branches back on the high street?”
‘Very much agree’
Mark Drakeford replied: “Llywydd, I very much agree with what Alun Davies said there. We are committed to supporting the creation of a community bank for Wales, headquartered here in Wales, owned and run for the benefit of its members as a mutual community financial institution.
“I know that the aim of Banc Cambria is to provide every day full retail banking services, particularly in those communities where we’ve seen a flight of mainstream financial institutions, leaving many high streets bereft of facilities on which many people have relied.
“I very well remember, Llywydd, a visit to Buckley with my colleague Jack Sargeant, where, from a single spot on the high street, Jack was able to point to four different buildings—landmark buildings a couple of them—that, even five years ago, had been occupied by mainstream banks, every one of them gone from that high street.
“And the importance we attach to the idea of developing a community bank for Wales is to bring those services back to high streets in the way that Alun Davies suggested, and particularly to do so in those places where those mainstream financial institutions, which made a lot of money out of those communities, have fled, very often leaving very little behind.”
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