Vaughan Gething, Minister for the Economy for the Welsh Government, has announced that a plan to create a community bank that would have service rural communities across Wales has been paused due to the uncertain economic climate. The proposed aim of the bank was to be an institution that would have a strong presence in communities across Wales, in order to service those areas that have lost banking services in recent years. As the Welsh Government doesn’t have power to create a public community bank itself, ministers had been in talks to support such an endeavour with Monmouthshire Building Society since 2021.
Gethin said that he had held a meeting with Monmouthshire Building Society earlier in the week, where he was informed they would undertake a strategic review that would look at their ability to provide a community banking service and that they had confirmed that they didn’t believe it was the right time for such a venture. Gething suggested that the main reason for the review was the effect that the present economic circumstances were having on the mortgage market and that this was unlikely to change in the short term. He noted that any further plan to establish a community bank would be driven by another review by the building society and that they did not foresee this happening within this Senedd term.
In a thread on Twitter, Banc Cambria, who have been an integral part of the lobbying and planning process to create a community bank, stated:
‘Today’s news is extremely disappointing. We had all worked hard on this path to delivering Banc Cambria, but we will continue to work on other routes and we will give an update on how this is going this Autumn. We know the need for community banking in Wales remains; the big banks continue to flee our communities, leaving town centre adrift and there remains a commitment from us, Welsh Government and our other partners to get this over the line this Senedd term. Finally, we are pleased to see that cross-party support in the Senedd and across the Nation remains solidly behind this vital economic project. The need for a Welsh mutual bank is as great, if not greater, than ever.
Gething closed his statement by saying:
‘The road toward community banking in Wales, while not straight forward, is not at an end. We continue to work with CCL and key institutions and bodies in Wales to explore all options toward creating a community bank in Wales aligned with our aspirations and the needs of communities and businesses.’
You can read the full written statement by Vaughan Gething here.