Access to banking
We need banks to protect access to local branches for older people
In Wales, according to Which?, a staggering 348 bank branches have closed since 2015, leaving 211 branches open. Whilst banking hubs have been announced in Abergele, Abertillery, Porthcawl, Prestatyn and Welshpool they have yet to be opened.
With the volume and rapidness of bank branch closures, Age Cymru is increasingly concerned about the detrimental impact this is having on the ability of many older people to access their personal finances. Many older people rely on physical banking services to access cash, manage their bank account and make transactions. This is especially important for those older people who are not online; and almost a third of people aged 75 or over in Wales are digitally excluded. Even among older people who do have online access, some are reluctant to use online banking due to worries about fraud and others find the online systems overly complex and would be more confident discussing their finances in-person.
Older people have told us that they are regularly having to travel increasingly long distance to access in-person banking support, which is particularly difficult for those with no personal transport. And with the increased unreliability and reduction in public transport this is making it unnecessarily difficult for people to get the support they need.
We understand that the pandemic had a significant impact on the footfall to branches across the UK, however, banks must ensure that they are working to provide adequate alternative provision for in-person customers and are undertaking a thorough consultation with communities about the impact of any closures.
We're seeing examples of positive local initiatives in Wales taking place
A good example is Caerphilly, where the local authority has been proactively working with banks who have announced closures within the area to set up alternative provision. Or in Cowbridge where Principality Building Society have recently launched a trial which allows customers of 22 banks to manage their money at a new kiosk run by One Banx.
However, much more needs to be done by banks to make sure that communities have adequate access to in person banking, and that older people are not excluded from managing the own finances.
How can you get involved in our campaign?
- We're encouraging you to write to your local branch, your local councillor, Member of the Senedd and your local MP to highlight your concerns about the closure of a bank in the community
- Once you've sent your letter or email, please contact us letting us know you've done so.