HSBC has announced the closure of 62 branches with many in rural areas
Closures of banks, services and businesses could be pushing people out of rural areas, according to the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW).
HSBC has announced bank closures across rural communities with 62 of its UK branches set to close in 2017, including 9 across Wales.
Yorkshire Building Society has also announced 48 branch closures this year.
HSBC said it was closing branches in response to changes in the way customers were accessing the bank. It said 93 per cent of customers’ contact with the bank was now via the telephone, internet or smartphone.
But the closures will hit rural areas with inadequate internet connections hard. The FUW also warned it would affect people who did not have the IT skills to switch to internet banking.
Head of retail banking and wealth management for HSBC UK and Europe, Francesca McDonagh said it was working with customers to help them with ‘alternative ways to bank’.
She said: “We will offer customers individual sessions to help explain their options or provide help in setting up telephone, mobile or internet banking.”
The bank also has a partnership where customers can ‘carry out their day to day’ banking in the post office.
Glyn Roberts, FUW president, said to make Wales a ‘rural economic powerhouse’ rural areas needed to be attractive to working families and businesses.
“If the problem of rural depopulation is not addressed with some urgency it could have severe consequences for our rural communities and with that also our rural economy,” he said.
“For many telephone banking is impractical, as they prefer to deal with their personal finances on a one-to-one basis and mobile banking is limited in many rural areas.
“The provision of acceptable broadband services is an increasingly critical part of meeting the needs of rural Wales.”