A GROUP of Gwent MPs are among more than 100 Parliamentarians who have called on banking giant Barclays to reverse a decision to stop letting customers withdraw cash in post offices.

The cross-party group, including Labour's Jessica Morden, Nick Thomas-Symonds, Nick Smith and Conservative David Davies, along with 120 other MPs to have signed a letter to the bank's chief executive Jes Staley urging him to reconsider.

Between January 2015 and August 2019 3,312 high street bank and building society branches across the UK closed their doors - of which at least 481 were Barclays. And, with an average of 500 free cash machines closing every month, the MPs have said many customers have been relying on being able to get their money from post office branches.


The MPs fear the bank’s decision will impact the “poorest communities hardest” and warned Barclays not to “abandon the communities that had sustained them for decades.”

Mr Smith, who represents Blaenau Gwent, has been outspoken on the issue of free ATM closures, with his constituents being some of the hardest hit in the country.

"I have personally written to Barclays to register my frustration and disappointment with this decision in the strongest possible terms," he said. "I am particularly angry about this given the assurances I received when I met with Barclays representatives earlier this year.

"I requested a meeting to convey my anger at Barclays’ decision to close its Abertillery branch and was given repeated assurances that customers could use the Post Office for their banking transactions.

"I have been working with Barclays to bring a pilot outreach service back to Abertillery, but this latest decision leaves a sour taste.

"Any replacement service would be completely undermined by the loss of free services at the Post Office which Barclays officials repeatedly assured me would be available.

"I have been speaking recently about alarming data which shows that 39 per cent of Blaenau Gwent’s ATMs currently charge for withdrawals.

"This is another unacceptable blow to my constituents’ ability to access their own money free of charge.

"I believe Barclays must show good faith here and reverse this decision."

Meanwhile, Monmouthshire's Mr Davies ending the ability to withdraw cash at post office branches "is going to make life incredibly difficult for many people".

"The decision will hit rural communities especially hard. Already bank branches are closing and cash machines are disappearing, the Post Office was the last resort for some customers who need cash," he said.

"Barclays seem to think that everyone can do all financial transactions online but some, especially older customers, are not always comfortable with this. In any case a lack of broadband means it is not always possible.

"There is huge division in Parliament at the moment yet MPs from all parties have put aside their differences to demand a reversal of the policy. Barclays should take note."

And Mr Thomas-Symonds, who represents Torfaen, said: “We need to do all we can to ensure local access to cash, particularly in light of high street bank branches closing; we also need to support our local Post Offices. "I very much hope Mr Staley listens.”

Newport East MP Jessica Morden said: “Wales has lost more than 40 per cent of its bank branches over the last five years, and the lack of free and easy access to cash hits the most vulnerable members of our communities hardest.

"The UK Government should also carefully consider the Welsh Government’s call for regulation of the sector to ensure that these vital services are always readily available to customers and local businesses.”

The change is due to come into effect in January 2020. Barclays has said customers can still use cash machines or ask for cashback when shopping.