The Welsh Affairs Committee will examine the closures of high street banks in Wales as it launches a new inquiry into access to cash and high street banking.

The Committee will consider how declining high street banking services are impacting vulnerable people and small businesses across Wales.

Wales has experienced a rapid decline in high street banking services. Already in 2024, 23 high street bank closures have been announced in Wales, while automated teller machines (ATMs) declined by nearly a quarter between 2018 and 2023.

Small businesses often rely on cash due to the costs involved in using credit card and mobile payments, which can undermine small profit margins. Those on lower incomes, those with physical or mental health disabilities, and those living in rural areas and older people also risk being left behind by the disappearance of cash and in-person services from their local communities.

The Committee’s inquiry will examine how Wales is being affected by the loss of high street bank services, and whether the problem is worse in Wales than other parts of the UK. It will consider whether current regulations go far enough to ensure the population have access to banking services, and whether suggested solutions like banking hubs, banking vans and community banks provide an adequate replacement to bricks and mortar high street banks.

Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee and Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb said:

“As online banking grows in popularity, high street services are disappearing across Wales. But the many small businesses and vulnerable people reliant on cash risk being left behind by this change.

“This has the potential to be a serious issue for Wales that could quickly spiral out of control. We must not sleepwalk into a situation where entrepreneurial micro-businesses or the already disadvantaged are locked out of the banking services on which we all rely. 

“In this inquiry, we are particularly keen to hear from those likely to be directly affected by the shift away from cash and physical banks. I encourage anyone with first-hand experience of losing banking services to give evidence to the Committee.”