Welsh Gov announces plan to help launch new community bank for Wales by 2023
The Welsh Government has announced a plan to help with launching a new community bank for Wales by 2023.
It is working with Monmouthshire Building Society to accelerate the establishment and roll-out of Banc Cambria across Wales.
This is order to seek to address the what it describes as a market failure, with the exodus of retail banks from Wales’ high streets leading to a gap in provision.
The Economy Minister Vaughan Gething confirmed the plan today, for Monmouthshire Building Society, to work with the Welsh Government and Cambria Cydfuddiannol Ltd (CCL).
The aim is for Banc Cambria to have a full customer launch and provide everyday full retail banking services in communities across Wales by 2023.
The Welsh Government argues that the UK has one of the least diverse retail ranking 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 for their owners.
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.
An increasing number of communities across Wales are now left without access to accessible banking services, which Ministers believe is an essential public service – with rural communities and those individuals and businesses across Wales, who are more reliant upon cash, and face-to-face relationship banking, being hit the hardest.
Retail High Street Banks are retreating from Welsh high streets at an ever increasing and alarming pace:
According to ONS data, the number of bank branches in the UK has fallen by 4,390, or by 39% between, 2012 and 2021. Which? estimates that by the end of 2022, only 277 Bank and Building Society branches will remain in Wales.
Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “Our vision for the Community Bank for Wales is one that is based on the mutual model, owned by, and run for, the benefit of its members, rather than the maximisation of profit for shareholders. It will be a modern, full service community bank, headquartered in Wales, providing access to bilingual products and services, through a range of channels including digital, online and in-branch.
“The Bank will facilitate local investment and enhance community wealth-building, recirculating savings into loans and preventing capital drain. We very much hope it will provide a positive impact on communities and high streets across Wales, improving access to everyday banking services for all citizens regardless of income or wealth, as well as for small businesses across the whole of Wales.”
Banc Cambria aims to provide everyday full retail banking services, offering multichannel, bilingual banking services for individuals and small businesses; accessible through telephone, digital, online and face-to-face.
The bank says cannot replace the increasing number of branches closed by the high street banks. However, it aims to establish around 30 new outlets over the next decade – with a focus on communities that have lost provision.
The Minister added: “Delivery of a community bank is a good fit for Monmouthshire Building Society – a Welsh Mutual headquartered in Newport. They have been serving and supporting members and communities across South and West Wales to save and flourish for over 150 years. As a Mutual, they are already a purpose-led organisation, providing communities with access to financial help and support in locations that are convenient for them.
“Whilst there is still much work to be done, with key milestones and further decision points ahead for both the Welsh Government, the Society and Cambria Cydfuddiannol Ltd, we remain committed to providing all appropriate and necessary support in order to help accelerate the establishment and roll out of Banc Cambria across Wales.”
CEO of Monmouthshire Building Society, Will Carroll said: “Whilst this project is in its early stages, the Society is delighted to be working with Welsh Government to bring to life the aspiration of a community bank for Wales. We believe that delivering a community bank will support the Society’s purpose to bring more relevant services to more members in more places in Wales.”
Over the past two years, the Welsh Government has supported exploratory work undertaken by Cambria Cydfuddiannol Ltd (CCL), a co-operative society established to explore the creation of Banc Cambria as the Community Bank for Wales.
CCL’s Chair, Alex Bird said: “The Monmouthshire are a perfect fit to deliver Banc Cambria. As a modern mutual their focus is on supporting communities and delivering value to members. Working with the team at Monmouthshire, it is clear they are a brand to trust in the marketplace and we are confident that the values we have developed will be in safe hands with them.”