THE Liberal Democrats are pressing the Government to commit to providing additional funding in their upcoming budget in order to protect access to cash and free withdrawal services in rural areas.
Jamie Stone, Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, has written a letter to the Chancellor with the support of MPs from the Conservatives, Labour, Plaid Cymru and the SNP to call for this additional funding to be made available.
Research conducted by Which? has revealed that between January 2018 and December 2019, the UK has witnessed the closure of 1,203 local bank branches and around 8,700 fee-free ATMs.
Meanwhile, the number of fee-charging ATMs has increased by 37% meaning last year alone consumers paid over £29million just in transaction fees.
The Liberal Democrats have been leading the fight to protect rural banking services and led the cross-party campaign which made Barclays U-turn on their plans to stop customers withdrawing cash through Post Office branches.
Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:
“Access to cash is something which threatens the very heart of our rural communities here in Wales. Bank closures have left our towns in a precarious situation, with many people having to travel out of town simply to access their own money.
“In Hay-on-Wye, where I live, you can only withdraw cash through the Post Office or a cash machine which charges 99p per transaction. This hurts local businesses and unfairly penalises older residents and those with mobilities issues, who cannot easily travel out of town to find a free cash machine.
“The Conservatives talk a big talk about wanting to support the rural economy here in Wales, now is their chance to show that it’s more than just empty rhetoric. If they truly care about supporting our communities then they’ll do the right thing and make this funding available. “