NatWest Bank has been accused of hitting society’s “most vulnerable groups” after it announced it will be closing two south Powys branches later this year.

The bank’s branches in Builth Wells and Hay-on-Wye are among 128 across the country that will shut their doors for the last time in October.

The decision has been slammed by Brecon and Radnorshire AM Kirsty Williams, who has set up a meeting with NatWest to voice her opposition to the closures.

“Yet again it will be the most vulnerable groups that suffer the greatest consequences, but this appears to mean very little to banks these days,” said Ms Williams.

“They also serve a wide area including people in the rural communities surrounding the towns, this will be a huge blow for local businesses and residents.

“It is clear that the Access to Banking protocol has totally failed rural areas and needs a complete overhaul by the Westminster government.

“Perhaps it is time we looked at other types of banking, such as the community banking model, and make greater use of co-operatives and credit unions as well.”

Councillor Gareth Ratcliffe, who represents the Hay-on-Wye ward, added: “NatWest’s own figures say that 53.9 per cent of their Hay customers are actively choosing to use digital banking options, but what about the other 46.1 per cent?

“Internet banking is not suitable or even possible for many residents and it is devastating that another bank is turning its back on the wonderful town of Hay.

“I am also concerned about the impact this will have on cashpoints in the town.

“Access to cash is already an issue so I will be urging NatWest to keep their cashpoint open in Hay even if we cannot save the branch.”