/ Money

Why it’s now or never to halt the cash crisis

The government must finally deliver on its promise to protect access to cash. Here’s how we’re keeping the pressure on and how you can get involved.

Today, Which? will be sharing footage of a giant cash receipt on our social channels calling on the government to finally deliver on its promise to protect access to cash. 

Why? It’s been two years since the government first pledged to introduce legislation which would protect access to cash. 

Queen’s Speech 2022

In just two weeks, the start of the parliamentary year begins and the Queen will read out a speech as part of the State Opening of Parliament ceremony. 

The Queen’s Speech provides the government with an opportunity to highlight its priorities for the months ahead – and we are hopeful it will use the opportunity to include provisions to protect cash and confirm when legislation will be introduced. 

Another year of inaction could risk an irretrievable collapse of the country’s cash system. 

Since legislation was first committed to in the Spring Statement way back in April 2020, 1,413 bank branches have closed and a further 226 are scheduled to close this year alone

In total, since 2015 (when Which? began to track branch closures) 4,685 bank branches have shut their doors, 

And it’s not just bank branches that have closed. A Which? analysis found that since 2018, 12,178 free-to-use (FTU) ATMs have been cut – which is the equivalent to almost a quarter of the FTU network.

Our campaign’s next steps

So, what are we doing? We’ve printed an 80-metre long cash receipt with the names of 24,000 Which? supporters who have supported our cash campaign and wrote to their MP about what cash means to them. 

We’ve also seen our supporters send 6,000 letters to their local paper raising the issue of cash closures in their communities. And we’re not done yet. 

We’ve sent a formal letter to Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT) signed by MPs, supportive organisations and charities pushing for legislation. We need legislation because although many consumers have embraced digital banking, there are still millions, including the elderly, vulnerable and isolated who aren’t yet ready or willing to make that switch – and they must be protected. 

Although the banking industry has taken some action to address this, establishing the Access to Cash Action Group (CAG), we believe only legislation will protect cash.

LINK’s involvement

The CAG has agreed a new approach so that any community that faces the closure of a core cash service, such as a bank branch or ATM, will have its needs independently assessed by LINK. 

LINK will then decide whether a new solution is required to meet the community’s needs such as a new ATM , enhanced Post Office services or a new shared banking hub. 

However, these proposals are voluntary which means they can be stopped at any time and lack regulatory oversight to ensure what’s delivered is in the best interest for consumers. 

We believe the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) should be made the key regulator to protect cash services.

How to get involved

With just two weeks to go until the Queen’s Speech, we believe it’s now or never to halt the cash crisis

Please support our campaign by taking a photo of your local closed ATM or bank branch and share it online.

You can also retweet our calls to John Glen MP, economic secretary to the Treasury, to protect cash. 

Comments

I hope many will be reassured by this:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-powers-to-protect-access-to-cash
including
Under the new rules, the financial regulator – the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – will be granted new powers over the UK’s largest banks and building societies, to ensure that cash withdrawal and deposit facilities are available in communities across the country.

The FCA’s new powers will allow it to address cash access issues at both a national and local level. To support the FCA, the government will in due course set out its expectations for a reasonable distance for people to travel when depositing and withdrawing cash. This will reflect the existing spread of cash withdrawal and deposit facilities in the UK.

Yes, this is a good step forward.

I feel that the campaign now needs to focus on making it mandatory for outlets to accept payments in cash for purchases up to a certain value [£40 perhaps].

It is interesting to note that 96% of the population are within two kilometres of a place where cash can be withdrawn and deposited, including post offices, banks, and free-to-use ATM’s. ATM’s operate 24 hrs a day and many PO branches have longer opening hours than previously including on Saturdays. When the uptake of cash-without-purchase develops, convenient access to cash will be even better.

Maria says:
Today 10:28

When grandparents, visit and like to give their grandchildren cash or when people with eyesight conditions cash machines, these cash figures are not readable to all.