/ 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, too, want to see access to cash maintained, as I do access to face-to-face banking. I recognise the huge shift by most of the population away from using cash, and making use of online banking and appreciate this has consequences on the commercial operators who provide these facilities. The extensive network of bank branches and ATMs can never return so we must innovate, promote and support changes that move with the times.

Shared banking facilities offer the means to access major banks without the high cost of individual branches. Cash without purchase offers the possible means to access cash at participating outlets to far more people throughout the UK, including remote areas, than ever could get cash before. Post offices offer everyday banking facilities now to private and business customers.

https://www.which.co.uk/news/2022/04/almost-half-of-the-uks-bank-branches-are-gone-its-now-or-never-to-halt-the-cash-crisis/

https://press.which.co.uk/whichpressreleases/now-or-never-to-save-cash-which-warns-as-new-research-reveals-atms-and-bank-branch-network-cut-to-the-bone/

So I find these latest News and Press Releases from Which? quite deceitful. There is no mention of 11500 post offices providing free access to cash – making the number of cash outlets, including ATMs, the highest number it has ever been. No mention of the new cash without purchase scheme. No mention of why many ATMs were closed, through over provisions, clusters, for example. No mention of schemes to protect ATMS.

It is true the banking and cash landscape is changing, as do many things in life. So we need constructive proposals and support for initiatives, embrace change and help make it work for the better.

Instead I see negativity and continuing attempts to mislead by withholding essential information, seemingly to get us to support a blinkered mantra. Which? should not behave like that. Well, not in my view.

After promising legislation to protect cash, the government issued a consultation to seek views on how best to achieve this. Their website https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/access-to-cash-consultation says

”We are analysing your feedback
Visit this page again soon to download the outcome to this public feedback.
Summary
This consultation seeks views on the government’s legislative proposals for protecting access to cash.

This consultation ran from
1 July 2021 to 11:45pm on 23 September 2021

It seems the work is underway in advance of the necessary legislation. Hopefully Which? contributed constructively to the consultation.

I endorse Malcom’s comment.

The public will determine the future needs for access to cash. So far as I can see there are adequate resources in place now, through several approaches, to make reasonable geographical provision for people’s needs both economically and efficiently.

It is pointless to keep going on about the closure of bank branches. It is regrettable but understandable. Customers have deserted them and can do most of their banking in the comfort and privacy of their homes, or on the move if that’s what they choose. We can’t put that back in the bottle now, and nor should we attempt to because the overhang of unused bank branches would be a consumer detriment represented by higher banking costs.

Which? has had a meaningful effect on the development of policy in this area and should be satisfied with what it has achieved. Legislation is necessary as underpinning to the development work that has gone on so far, and, indeed, a remarkable amount of positive change has already been accomplished.

‘Before and after’ statistics of the numbers of bank branches and ATM’s are of little use on their own because they assume that nothing else has changed, but it has: the chief change has been in the behaviour of the public through their shopping habits, their leisure activities, and their use of digital technology. It also ignores the historical over-provision of ATM’s in many places that developments in machine technology and changes in demand have enabled to be rationalised. There will always be a need for cash as the thousands of comments to Which? Conversation have made abundantly clear so provision will be made, and that has a government pledge.

The railways and bus companies don’t want to handle cash again on a vast scale as they used to, the cinemas, concert halls and sports stadia are happy with card payments, goods are too highly priced to make carrying wads of cash practical, so the future of cash is going to be different to the past whatever model we look at.

My only concern now is the growing evidence that many traders are declining cash as a means of payment for goods and services. This is fundamentally wrong and I believe does need to be legislated against within limits. I would prefer it if Which? focused on that aspect of the issue.

I am intrigued by Which?’s belief that “the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) should be made the key regulator to protect cash services”. No reason has been given for that proposal, so it would be helpful to have an explanation. The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) is currently the regulator for cash services [among other banking and payment transactional facilities]. It could be damaging to the integrated regulation of related services to detach cash services from the PSR remit and place them under a body [the FCA] that deals with higher level, strategic and criminal conduct issues. The PSR is an independent organisation with a clear purpose founded in the public interest. I think it would be more to the point if Which? gave evidence to the House of Commons Treasury Committee as part of its ongoing scrutiny of the work of the Payment Systems Regulator. The Committee will start taking oral evidence on 25 May; Which? could take the opportunity to press its point for appropriate legislation.

It will be interesting to see what Which? does with the 80-metre long cash receipt it has produced and how the government responds to its letter to the Treasury.

Until very recently Which? ignored the cash without purchase initiative, rarely mentioned post offices, did not analyse correctly the distribution of free- and pay-to-use ATMS (Great Yarmouth was a prime ample and despite being told of their misinterpretation never retracted it) ….l this lack of complete and balanced information has gone on for a number of years.

Why are the points I mentioned above not referred to in this Convo intro, the Press Release or Latest News? They are very relevant to an informed and constructive discussion about access to cash.

So I maintain my view that we have been consistently mislead by unbalanced information. I would like to see Which? being more constructive and innovative in its approach, but perhaps they do no see that as their role?

Would Which? say what part they are playing in the progress of the Community Access to Cash action group? UK finance are reporting here https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/press/press-releases/pivotal-moment-banks-consumer-groups-post-office-and-link-join-forces-help-protect-cash-services and minutes are published on the website, but I can see no mention of Which? participating.

Which? do say ”Major banks have agreed to share services to help people and businesses maintain access to cash, following a longstanding Which? campaign “. Did they actually instigate the Community Access to Cash initiative and are they helping it develop?

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/12/banks-announce-access-to-cash-solutions-but-are-they-enough/ – Which?

The digital currency system can not change the fact that for centuries we have had physical tokens to exchange for goods and services, bartering being too clumsy for every day finance. Taking away that physical presence leaves us vulnerable to the vicissitudes of the digital set up where nothing is seen to pass from person to person and all transactions happen elsewhere, away from the man in the street. All that’s left to him is to indicate a willingness to make a transaction and, of course for others to tap in and make it for him, with or without his consent. There has to be a place for actual cash , both as a back up when the electronics crash and to present as a national currency with a recognisable means of identification. Bit coins and their like, have visual images but no one mints them nor is there a paper equivalent for higher denominations.
In order to get rid of our notes and coins, we have to make really sure that the alternatives are fool-proof and I don’t think that is the case currently. Then, of course, no one has completely addressed the plight of those charities, clubs and vulnerable people who have no electronic means of collecting money or spending it. Most of us have some sort of a card that can get access to cash and a few still use the cheque book which pretty much guarantees that your payment gets to the right place and is not hijacked on the way electronically or by mis-typing.
There has to be an analysis of why some want cash to disappear. Progress in a modern age is not a complete answer and mocking the vulnerable is not addressing the issue either. Physical cash has always represented a certain stability in our society. I see bank and ATM closures as a commercial decision and not as a deliberate attack on our use of cash , however, the one follows the other as does the reluctance of banks to handle coinage. Cash has always been part of our society and the government should protect it. I support Which?, as a pressure group, in this endeavour.

Donna O'Brien says:
26 April 2022

Hi Grace, would we be able to join the campaign and could you email me more information xxxxxxx. We support people with learning disabilites, autism and sight loss and one of the continued issues we have is around people not being able to pay in cash anymore when out and about. For visually impaired people we support they particularly value being able to handle cash.

[Moderator: we’ve edited this comment to remove personally identifiable information, as this is not allowed in the Community guidelines. Please don’t post people’s names, addresses, or other personally identifiable information – even if you suspect it is made up. This is to protect everyone’s privacy.]

Hi Donna, we removed the personal details on the comment above. If you would like to get in touch directlu. You can always drop us a message here.

Ali says:
29 April 2022

We need to keep cash as going fully digital will be detrimental to society.
What about the terminals ‘going’ down and being unusable? How would we pay for items in shops/ supermarkets?
What if we want to treat a family member to a few pounds for their birthday?
Car boot sales/church fetes, giving to the homeless.
Elderly folk not grasping technology? The list goes on and on.

Cash needs to stay!!

Val Bolitho says:
29 April 2022

Of course we need cash but it is noticeable how shops expect payment by card, even for the smallest amounts. I am trustee of a charity and I have noticed how our honesty box stall struggles and people say this is because they don’t carry cash. I really don’t know how they cope!

People who manage to cope without carrying cash might possibly be less generous or less spontaneous by nature, less inclined to make a small purchase on impulse, not likely to use market stalls, charity shops, or street vendors. Their every transaction has to be recorded and reconciled. We all have the right to be like that if we can. Unfortunately some people have no choice but to use only cash and they are being disadvantaged by traders who insist on card payments.

(Dr) Pedr Jarvis says:
29 April 2022

One bright spark on the scene is the Co-op. Every Co-op I know has a cash machine outside, and I use one or other every week. I find there are many small transactions where it is so much simpler to hand over cash.
I declare an interest – I have been a member of the Co-op for sixty years.

We need to maintain cash as a physical exchange to allow / maintain freedom of private enterprise and interaction.

I have seen no evidence that there is any intention of abolishing cash; what I do see is unsubstantiated scaremongering. The real issue is about how we access it conveniently, and with post offices, cash without purchase, ATM protection we seem to be moving to do that.

I will be sending round an email to society volunteers to update them on how to record and pay in the cash donations they receive and reminding them to suggest that donations can be Gift Aided provided that the donor pays sufficient tax.

I sent the draft to our treasurer who pointed out that the member who pays in donations should do this online if possible because HSBC now charges us 40p to accept a cheque payment or for a cash payment at a branch. The suggestion was to pay in the amount and keep the cash, which is what I have done for years.

We are planning to start using a mobile cash reader because a growing number of people do not carry cash, as I found on Good Friday and Easter Monday. The problem is a poor mobile signal but hopefully it will be adequate. If it proves unsatisfactory the card reader can be used at another site that has better network access and with luck we will be using two mobile card readers soon.

Em says:
4 May 2022

I see Amazon have a deal on SumUp 3G card readers for just under £100. There is also a transaction fee of 1.69%. Absolutely no idea if these are any good. Would be interested to hear what you go for in the end @wavechange.

Thanks @Em – My colleague has already purchased a SumUp Solo – a small 3G card reader with a charging dock. I had passed on information from a variety of sources including the suggestion of myPOS by @wingman

https://conversation.which.co.uk/community/this-month-april-2022/#comment-1650170 I cannot report back about that because the April Conversation is closed.

We rarely need to provide receipts for donations though there is a receipt book available in case one is requested, so we did not choose the model with a printer. The decision to go for the SumUp was because my colleague has some experience through a friend’s small business.

If this works well I envisage we will buy another card reader soon and will report back when we have gained some experience.

Discouraging the use of cash will not help preserve its future, something many regard as essential for a variety of reasons. Although I doubt it will, in my lifetime, sink into oblivion. Using credit cards instead for small transactions where an organisation creams off a percentage, when cash does not, seems a bit uncomfortable to me when it is not necessary. Clearly largish purchases and online trading require electronic payments of one kind or another but smaller face-to-face transactions do not.

Malcolm – We have bought a card reader because a growing number of people turn up willing to make a small donation to support the work of our charity but unable to do so because they do not carry cash. Some do carry notes as a backup and on Good Friday I had to delve into our donations bucket to find £15 change for a £20 note. Another person went home and came back with cash. HSBC, the bank used by our charity, now charges us to accept cash and cheque payments.

I’ve been involved in setting up a new website that can accept online payments and although we have not sold much merchandise we have gained an encouraging number of members and have had online donations too.

Would it be sensible for a charity to simply turn down anything other than cash, Malcolm? None of our trustees think so.

That was not my point wavechange. It was a general observation under the topic “halting the cash crisis”.

You did refer to an organisation ‘creaming of a percentage’. As Em mentioned, SumUp has a transaction fee of 1.69%. Our bank now charges us to accept cash and cheques, an incentive to avoid their use.

Gone are the days when companies could charge for card payments, which is now illegal. I hope it is illegal to impose surcharges for using cash, but if not then it might happen. We already have numerous ATMs that charge for withdrawing cash. I have never had to use one.

We are, of course, charged for card payments, but not directly; the transaction charge is factored in to the price we pay – however we pay.

The “organisation” creaming off a percentage is the one providing the card payment service, in case that was not clear. It seems quite a profitable operation https://annualreport.visa.com/financials/default.aspx

Charities like ours are simply following in the steps of businesses. With the imposition of charges for accepting cash and cheques and the fact that a growing number of visitors are not carrying cash, we have to move with the times. We have lost a great deal of income in the past two years thanks to Covid but have significant insurance and other costs. Our treasurer far prefers online payments, partly because the convenient HSBC branch in Chesham closed.

Em says:
4 May 2022

This not carrying cash is definitely a problem for charities, but will not be solved by them stubornly “insisting” that people carry cash around with them.

I attended a wine fair at the weekend (in a professional capacity I should add) and the organisers had placed buckets at strategic locations for donations to a local charity. A family with two young children approached one of the free entertainments laid on and were slightly embarrased that they had no coins to donate in exchange for the face painting / balloons / whatever.

I just happened to have some pound coins in my pocket. As I had not already made a donation, I give each of the girls a pound, which they happily placed in the bucket. When I returned much later that day, there were four pounds in the bucket.

Em says:
4 May 2022

I’m less worried about the 1-3% deductions made by a bank for the provision of a service, compared to the amounts paid to chuggers for collecting donations, working for some of the largest charities.

I make the most of my donations through salary deductions to CAF, who do take an administration fee (c. 5%) which is paid my employer. A least every penny paid to my favoured charities is paid gross, with no losses due to Gift Aid forms not being completed, nor the higher rate tax relief going back into the pocket of the donor or staying with HMRC if unclaimed on the annual returns.

Christine says:
30 April 2022

At Beamish museum they have notices saying they have gone cashless. However, in their coffee shop an elderly woman was told she could pay in cash as long as she didn’t want her change. As a result she was overcharged for her purchases. Is this legal. If they are cashless how can they take money as long as they can keep the change.

“Beamish is a world famous open air museum, telling the story of life in North East England during the 1820s, 1900s, 1940s and 1950s.”
It’s a fascinating place where you can learn about life in the past. Maybe one day, visitors will learn about the days when cash was accepted almost everywhere before its use started to decline, first as a result of removal of ATMs and closure of banks, and then by the gradual decline in acceptance of cash.

Those who visit Beamish after looking at their website may be dismayed to find that cash is no longer welcome, as you have said, Christine. I could find no reference to this until I read this:

“Will I need to pay by card for any purchases during my visit?

Yes, as part of our safety and hygiene measures, all payments will need to be by card/contactless only, with no cash transactions across the museum. We’ll continue to keep this under review.” https://www.beamish.org.uk/faqs-beamish-reopening-covid19-3/

Perhaps Beamish and other businesses still refusing to take cash need to find a better reason than Covid. I have not heard of any evidence of cash transmitting Covid.

I can think of various examples of businesses etc. not providing change. Parking meters don’t generally give change, though you will probably be allowed extra time. Not far from Beamish is the Tyne Tunnel, where no change was offered for cash payments. Now cash is not accepted and you have to pay online by midnight on the following day.

It has been suggested that businesses will need to accept cash to survive but a growing number are proving that this is not necessarily the case. I believe that the government must act to ensure that cash remains an acceptable form of payment for essential goods and services. Then it would be necessary to define “essential”.

I presume if someone drives a car they will need to carry a card to pay for fuel, so using it for road tolls seems logical?

Debit and credit cards are undoubtedly the everyday payment method by the vast majority – 3. ” In 2019, 102 million debit cards were in circulation in the UK.
(Statista) (UK Finance)……… ”In June 2020, there were a little over 36 million active credit card accounts in the UK,

However, I do think it, at the very least, is an inconvenience for some to be denied the use of cash. Where it seems most inappropriate is for children. How do they buy an ice cream or a memento on a day out? They need to be taught the value of money and only cash can do that.

Perhaps one way round this is to have a standard “cash card” that can be loaded with any amount of money at widespread payment takers.

However, as ATMs and bank branches have been reduced, not closed, and other methods have evolved, and are evolving, in response to change, I believe the future of cash is assured and when the government get round to it, legislation will protect that. Businesses will, no doubt, respond to whatever pressure is imposed by customers – none of them will want to lose revenue. But if they find it beneficial, on balance, to trade without cash then they will. But maybe more emphasis needs to be placed on the way children can learn from handling real money.

One consequence of this situation is that people are increasingly learning that handling cash is a health risk, but as Wavechange says, there is no evidence of this. If people associate notes and coins with catching a virus then the days of cash will surely be numbered. And once one tourist site closes the door on cash others will follow.

Beamish is an excellent open air museum that entertains and educates on many levels and I agree that “fascinating” is the right word for it. Next time I go I shall make sure to take a pocketful of sixpences, florins and half-crowns and some ten-shilling and pound notes.

Many of these attractions are government funded in one form or another. As an earnest of its desire to protect cash, maybe the government should make its continued support dependent on the acceptance of cash in their coffee shops and gift shops.

If I were serving in the coffee shop at Beamish I would have offered the dear lady her change in biscuits so she did not go away disappointed.

I visited Crich Tramway Village a few years ago and in exchange for my entry fee I was given a ticket and an old penny coin, the latter to be surrendered when taking the first tram ride of the day.

Yes . . . that was another enjoyable day out a few years ago. I am old enough to remember travelling on London’s and Birmingham’s trams so it brought back memories – especially of having to pull the seat-back over when the tram changes direction at the end of the line.

I think we are very fortunate to have these excellent examples of life in bygone times, admittedly reconstructed, but authentically done. I accept that they have to be slightly sanitised for the modern audience but banning cash is a step too far!

Crich Tramway Museum is well worth a visit, as is the GW Railway Centre at Didcot in Oxfordshire. The Railway Museum in York was a brilliant day out when I went many years ago.

My son took his 3 year old daughter to the RAF museum in Hendon, N.London and they both thoroughly enjoyed it; I’m going with them next time.

Much less enjoyable was a visit a couple of years ago to the Science Museum in Kensington. It appeared rather sparse, lacked interesting explanations and seemed to have a mediocre cafe on every floor.

Janeta says:
2 May 2022

As someone who has recently received a cheque from HMRC I was left with the problem of how to get it paid into my bank account, as all the banks in my local shopping areas (2) are now closed and as a person of an age who does not drive this presented a challenge. My ‘bank’ is currently sited in the middle of an industrial estate, fortunately I was able to get a family member to drive me there, however, I first had to findout when this branch would be open and surprise surprise they had one open day a week with limited hours. Having noted this and then arriving and queuing to make this transaction I was then informed that this branch also will be closing come September. Why are we no longer being allowed the right to do what we wish with our own money without it being monitored? Many people do use the post office for there banking but these to are being closed or has this been hushed up to squeeze us all online whether we can use these systems or not!

Janeta — You can always post a cheque to your bank for paying in to your account. There is no need to include a paying-in slip; you can just write a brief note giving your name and address. Write your account number and sort code on the back of the cheque. When your bank branch closes they should notify you of the branch to which your account is transferred and you should send cheques there in future.

If you are expecting any more cheques from HMRC you can instruct them to transfer the money direct into your bank account and send you a notification.

Posting a cheque makes sense. It might be easier for Janeta to find a Post Office than a bank branch these days. When paying in a cheque at a PO you must have a pre-printed paying-in slip. Knowing the account number and sort code is not enough, even though it is adequate to pay in at a bank.

It is interesting (perhaps) to note that, currently, there are probably as many places where you can pay in a cheque as there were in 1990.

I did not recommend using a post office to pay in an HMRC cheque because first you have to have a personalised paying-in slip from your bank. While a few paying-in slips are normally to be found at the back of a cheque book, not everyone has a cheque book or even a bank current account. Most bank deposit and savings accounts will accept cheques but the banks don’t necessarily provide paying-in slips specific to those accounts.

Janeta thought that post offices were being closed as well as bank branches. Perhaps there has been a reduction in her area; certainly many of the former Crown post offices have been closed and there is an occasional closure of sub-post offices on the retirement or resignation of the sub-postmaster or sub-postmistress, however the Post Office does try to find an alternative location and many have moved into W H Smith shops or convenience stores.

So far as I am aware there is no general policy to close post offices as there is for bank branches. It is possible that the shortage of alternative premises is not the major problem now but the reluctance of suitable people to take on the role of sub-postmaster or sub-postmistress following the dreadful treatment of thousands of these loyal and dutiful officers by the Post Office during the defective computer system scandal when they were aggressively, but wrongly, prosecuted for theft, false accounting and fraud.

I’m very disappointed by the number of Post Offices that have closed and have never regarded them as an adequate substitute for ATMs. On three occasions I have lost my local PO, though one reopened in less than two years. Our town centre used to have an excellent Crown PO but what we have now is a counter in WH Smith and there is no disabled access.

For most people, there is more chance of finding a PO than a bank branch.

The number of post offices has remained substantially the same for the last 13 years. I have used my local one from time to time to withdraw cash.

Simply counting the number of Post Offices is not useful without looking at where they are in relation to their users. In the Conversations about ATM closures there have been many examples of people being left without convenient access. Life can be very different in rural areas.

Given the large number of new communities that have sprung up over the last few years, standing still in terms of post office provision is not good enough. Most of the new estates or settlements in our area are based on the principle that every household has at least one car and will drive into Norwich to do any banking or post office business. Estate developers no longer seem interested in providing a small number of shop units to service the new homes. I expect the reality is that they would not be viable because the estates are deserted in the daytime so a Tesco Local/Express is the only provision.

malcolm r says: Today 18:14

The number of post offices has remained substantially the same for the last 13 years.

Not quite true.

That Daily Express article was from January 2017. I am happy to report that two of the Crown post offices slated for closure in Norfolk are still in operation. The Post Office has not been able to find a suitable alternative location and franchisee in either case so has not been able to proceed with the closures. Just as well, because most of the banks in the two market towns with rising populations have subsequently closed and the two Crown offices are substantial premises that have considerable customer capacity and extremely pleasant and helpful staff.

I have not checked any of the other post offices identified in the article but a number of them might have survived or been replaced.

That sounds like our former Crown Post Office in town, John. There were local protests about the planned closure but nothing was achieved. I’m glad you have been more fortunate.

Our Post Office in the village has been reinstated in the village shop. Gone is the large counter with two members of staff but that is now a delicatessen and the ‘Post Office’ is at one of the shop checkouts. Serving customers with bread and milk takes priority over Post Office business.

Simply counting the number of Post Offices is not useful without looking at where they are in relation to their users
Looking at the parliamentary reports helps with that:
”Looking at figures for access to any of bank, building society, Post Office branches or ATMs, in Jul-Sep 2021:
• 95.7% of the UK population were within 2km of a cash access point – and 4.3% were not
• 99.7% of the UK population were within 5km of a cash access point – and 0.3% were not.

and, as for the post office, see p8 of https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN02585/SN02585.pdf Where there are six criteria required by government, 5 of which are met, for example
”1. 99% of the UK population to be within 3 miles of their nearest post office outlet.

https://conversation.which.co.uk/money/access-to-cash-receipt-campaign/#comment-1650801” not quite true
See p12 of the parliamentary report https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN02585/SN02585.pdf
More up-to-date (2022) than the Express article (2017).

The ATM figures are based on information provided by LINK. According to their website I am 0.6 miles from the nearest ATM. In reality the shortest journey is about five times that distance because there is no direct access. When our tiny Post Office was closed for about two years the nearest one was miles away. There are no Paypoint sites offering cashback without purchase anywhere near.

In the highlands of Scotland you will find residents who are less than happy about current provision of banks, ATMs and Post Offices. I wonder what they think of the parliamentary report cited above. 😱

I want to retain access to cash, particularly for the benefit of those who currently have no real alternative, though I use only when there is no alternative.

It is not economically possible to have an ATM, bank, post office that is convenient for everyone in the UK, particularly for those in some rural communities. As the reports cited show. I would hope that if the Cash without Purchase initiative catches on this will benefit far more people, particularly those in more remote locations.

ATMs are expensive to install and service and need an adequate usage if they are to be economically viable. If shops and other business can dispense cash it makes far more sense to develop those outlets. As they are the places you go to spend cash they might as well be used to dispense it.

Scotland has the most ATMs per 10 000 population than any other part of the UK, and more post offices per 10 000 than England. In a less-densely populated country maybe the Scottish Government should step in to help.

It is not practical to provide these facilities nearby for everyone but before removing them an alternative should be in place. That is not what has happened with closure of banks and in most cases the associated ATM has simply been removed rather than relocated. This affects small businesses as well as the public. It’s better to visit places and explore the challenges that are faced rather than quoting statistics.

Perhaps alternatives to cash such as cards that can be topped up may be the future for those without convenient access to cash.

malcolm r says:
5 May 2022

https://conversation.which.co.uk/money/access-to-cash-receipt-campaign/#comment-1650801 – ” not quite true”

See p12 of the parliamentary report https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN02585/SN02585.pdf
]
More up-to-date (2022) than the Express article (2017).

malcolm r says: Today 18:14

The number of post offices has remained substantially the same for the last 13 years.

Which it hasn’t.

The question remains whether the public’s disuse of cash will overtake the availability of cash and what happens then, since it will not be economically viable to continue providing banks, PO’s or ATM’s throughout the country on anything like the previous scale. ‘Cash without purchase’ seems to be the best hope but it needs more of a push to gain traction.

Rightly or wrongly, the pandemic put a rocket under the retreat from cash — people thought it would spread the virus, trading places were forced to close, public transport went off limits for many, and working from home knocked out millions of convenience purchases. King Cnut demonstrated that you couldn’t turn the tide, and I think that is where we are now.

Cash will survive for years ahead for all the small transactions that people have identified but its circulation pattern will change and we need to work on that.

“The number of post offices has remained substantially the same for the last 13 years.

Which it hasn’t.
The table on p.11 of the Parliamentary report referenced gives 11820 post offices in 2011, 11415 in 2021 and the chart 2 on P12 shows 2009 to 2011 about the same. So “substantially the same for 13 years” seems a reasonable description.

I referenced the report so anyone interested can look at the published data and draw their own conclusions.

So the closure of 415 post offices leaves the overall total as “substantially the same”? I beg to disagree, particularly as those closures might well adversely affect more vulnerable communities and also as so many of the old Post Offices now reside at the rear of general shops, stores and the like.

Amazing what one can do with statistics.

“It is not practical to provide these facilities nearby for everyone…“. No, it isn’t. If an ATM closes through lack of viable use (they are provided by commercial entities) then what is it proposed to replace it with? They are protected by LINK to ensure in vulnerable areas, high streets and such so there is a local source of cash. Expecting bank branches to remain open when usage drops to an unviable level is unrealistic unless we are prepared to subsidise them. To counter this the banks entered into the arrangement with the 11400 post offices to provide essential banking facilities, including cash withdrawal.

What is realistic is to look at other options, such as Banking hubs and Cash without Purchase points. These are new initiatives, the latter only made possible when we left the EU, and could make access to cash far more convenient for far more people than ATMs ever did. I support these initiatives and hope they will become widespread and successful.

” It’s better to visit places and explore the challenges that are faced rather than quoting statistics.“. It would take an awful lot of visiting to explore every access to cash point so, like most, I need to explore the published data. You say you have to travel 3 miles to an ATM. I live in a fairly well populated rural area, not remote, where many have to travel more than 3 miles to reach an ATM – and always have had to even at the peak of ATM provision.

I agree — the overall number is substantially the same, although the distribution of them has changed to reduce the numbers in town and city centres which have become depopulated. To maintain theoretical ratios of population per post office there probably should be more but that has proved difficult as I mentioned previously.

In our part of the country almost every village with a population above 300 seems to have one because of the desire to keep village stores going and the sub-post office is a useful adjunct that brings customers in. The localities that lack a post office are more likely to be the edge of town estates and small communities where there are no other commercial opportunities.

P.8 of this report gives the government requirements for post office coverage https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN02585/SN02585.pdf

Everybody has to go shopping somewhere, and for most people that is at a superstore which could be two or three miles or more away even if they live in a developed area. Those are the places that need to provide reasonable access to cash, and they mostly do so. What I would suggest is that they should also provide additional basic banking services. They seem to be capable of operating bureaux de change at the larger stores, so being able to pay in cheques, withdraw from savings accounts, and move money would be useful.

Rather than the places where cash needs to be provided perhaps we should concentrate on the people who need easier access, which includes many who are not able to get out to a town or a large store.

Many people are comfortable having their friends, neighbours or carers doing their shopping for them and perhaps giving them small treats from time to time, but having some ready cash is a private thing and a mark of continuing self-sufficiency when other functions have diminished. Being able to pay your own way in the world is a key ingredient of self-respect, and, from a societal point of view, that has a high value and should be protected. So some innovative ideas are needed to help those who might not have family members close by but — whether rationally or otherwise — want some cash in the house.

We know we could all manage without cash through the use of technology, and it seems that a growing number do so and never carry it, but for many others it is their personal lifeline to independence and of an importance that should not be swept away precipitately. Society needs to accept this responsibility, possibly for another twenty years at least.

Carole says:
4 May 2022

I always use cash as I have a disability and when friends do errands for me I pay in cash. I recently had to go to my bank on a query because it was a nightmare with the phone and it was urgent. It is much better face-to-face. I was taken to a popular little cafe in Morden, Surrey over the bank holiday and they had a big sign saying CASH ONLY very unusual but good. So many things are based on the young generation and us older people are just left by the wayside or forgotten.

Em says:
4 May 2022

You can obtain special payment cards linked to your bank account that can be given to a trustworthy friend, relative or carer to make payments in store, or withdraw cash on your behalf. Note that it is not the same as giving them a debit or credit card that would have unlimited access to drain your account.

Go to:

http://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/family-and-care/illness-and-disability/carers-card-accounts

a government-run website for details.

Ignore the “illness and disability” bit – maybe you simply find it a chore or inconvenience getting to a bank or ATM.

In the interests of providing more knowledge and balance, Which? could use the opportunity of Convos like this to share the information about these alternatives to cash. I am sure many people would find this useful, if only they knew and could be assured by someone like Which? that they are safer than storing and handing out wads of cash.

You can also get a card from Wise that you can load with any amount of money from your bank account. It has a PIN and is contactless and can be used by anyone you give it to for use at a card terminal or ATM. It costs nothing. Your account shows when and and where it has been used and the amount spent.

Cards that can be topped up with money have been used for many years. I presume that’s how prepayment cards for electricity and gas operate. At work I had several for photocopying, including one for personal use, which I paid to recharge. The disadvantage remains that you cannot see how much credit remains on a card without putting it into some sort of reader, but there must be a solution.

It’s easier if the cards are not designed to be topped up but we don’t need more plastic waste. Recall the days of British Telecom Phonecards, when some telephone boxes were littered with cards with no credit remaining.

The Wise card is not designed to be disposable and the balance can be seen, along with all transactions, by logging in to your account.

It would not be very convenient to log into your account to check the balance on the card.

An advantage of pre-paid cards over cash is that it removes the need for finding the correct amount or dealing with change. These cards are ideal where there is a risk of someone breaking into a cash box.

Malcolm — Unless I’ve missed something, the Wise card seems to be for use overseas and with other currencies. I was not aware of this facility and have a potential use for such a card with a local resident. Is it useable inland and if so could you please provide a link? Thanks.

From the Wise website:

The Wise card lets you spend money around the world with low conversion fees and zero transaction fees. It’s currently available for Wise account-holder residents in Australia, the EEA, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Switzerland, the UK, the US and Canada.

Perhaps a word to the wise might elicit more information.

I have a Wise card that I leave with a vulnerable person with sufficient cash for their needs. I top it up from my bank account. I can check the balance and usage online. Wise is generally used as described above but can also be used as I do.

Thanks, Malcolm.

Crusader says:
6 May 2022

I’ve never heard of the “wise” card, or anything similar, it’s news to me. And I bet it can’t be used on buses or at trade counters like engineering suppliers or plumbers or builder’s merchants or timber yards etc. or hardware shops.

I can only speak from my experience. The card is a PIN and contactless one and, as far as I am aware, can be used anywhere other such cards are accepted. So far ours has been used in Costa, Tesco, newsagents.

It would certainly be a convenient way of allowing somebody else to draw out cash on behalf of a vulnerable or dependent person who could not get out to do so. It would avoid them having to release their debit card and allowing them to use their PIN. I have such a use in mind and the person concerned is perfectly capable of managing the card, ensuring there are enough funds available on it and controlling its use. Effectively, I would become a bank runner that doesn’t involve the use of my money, doesn’t reduce their security and control over their own money, avoids the need for cheques or special authorisations, and, so long as they trust me to hand over the cash they have requested, it will be a satisfactory process. Risk is minimised and limited to the value loaded on the card which remains under the card owner’s control even though it is in the hands of a third party.

“‘Unless legislation is introduced urgently, the ability to access, spend and deposit cash could be permanently lost for many consumers, leaving some of society’s most disadvantaged at risk of financial exclusion with no way to pay for the goods and services they need in their daily lives.’
https://press.which.co.uk/whichpressreleases/cash-a-lifeline-for-keeping-track-of-spending-for-15-million-people-amid-cost-of-living-crisis-which-research-reveals/

Post offices (around11 400) arranged with the banks to access and deposit cash. So the total number of banks, building societies and post offices offering facilities to access and deposit cash is currently about the same as the number of bank and building society branches in 1993.

And whilst many ATMs have “vanished”, many were in clusters or close together. The distribution of the remainder is more important than sheer numbers. LINK has a declared policy of protecting access to cash:
“LINK is committed to maintaining free access to cash in the UK. The LINK Financial Inclusion Programme, in operation since 2006, has led to the introduction of free ATM access to over 1,800 deprived areas in the UK. The Programme has operated by paying a premium on top of the normal cash withdrawal interchange rate to ATM Operators in these locations. In January 2018, LINK announced that the maximum premium payable to ATMs that are part of the Financial Inclusion Programme would be tripled.
As part of the reforms to the Interchange mechanism announced by LINK on 31st January 2018, LINK also announced two further measures to ensure the maintenance of a satisfactory geographical network of free-to-use ATMs:
• In December 2017 LINK announced that interchange fees on any free-to-use ATM 1km or more from the next free-to-use ATM would not be reduced ensuring that no ATMs in this category (defined as Protected ATMs) would close because of the reduction in interchange fees announced in January 2018.
• A general commitment to maintain an extensive footprint of free-to-use ATMs, maintaining the existing geographical coverage at the time of the interchange announcement 2018, involving a series of measures including Protected ATM Premiums.
Subsequently, LINK has introduced a further Low Volume Premium, thereby offering further incentives to prevent the closure of existing Protected ATMs.

The press release says“Unless legislation is introduced urgently, the ability to access, spend and deposit cash could be permanently lost ….” I see no evidence for this. The Government has consulted on the access to cash issue as a precursor to introducing legislation. Whether this will be completed by the time of the Queen’s Speech is unclear but I see no evidence that legislation will not be forthcoming.

By all means keep access to cash in the spotlight – I use cash and want to be able to access it – but I do not think scaremongering that it will disappear anytime soon is helpful. What we should be doing is pursuing new initiatives that will make access to cash easier for a lot more people than it has ever been, and supporting those that are in the formative stages. We will not see the return of large numbers of bank branches and dense populations of ATMs so must be realistic in what we propose. We could see a new network of banking hubs and cash without purchase sites alongside banks, ATMs and post offices. Positive thinking needed.

Whereas there is ample evidence that other contributors to Which? Conversation take note of, and engage with, points made by other commenters [even if they don’t necessarily revise their opinions], unfortunately there is little evidence that Which? takes any notice of the facts behind an issue if it doesn’t suit their populist campaigning stance, or doesn’t conform to an initial prejudice that needs to be modified, as developments in policy or practice emerge as a result of debate and consideration. This topic is typical of this hidebound attitude and resistance to acknowledging positive developments. Drop the dogma, please.

Both taxis I used to and from my recent visit to the A&E had card machines.

With the majority using some form of card payment, cash can now be considered as a reliable Plan B, a valid reason to ensure its continuing accessibility for those who are in need of it.

I’ve just given my fortnightly cleaning lady cash for her work. It is quicker to extract notes from my wallet than logging in to my bank account and making a transfer. She does not mind being paid either way.

When I need cash I withdraw it when I go shopping either from my building society, the ATM, or the post office. I effectively budget the amount I’ll need to keep in hand until my next expedition. The fact that these particular facilities are 6 miles away is irrelevant when that is where the shops I need are located.

From the Telegraph 30/3.22

Britain being forced to go cashless ‘against its will’

One in five would struggle in a cashless world and prefer notes and coins

Britain is becoming a cashless society against the public’s will, a major new study has found, after the pandemic accelerated the switch to card and digital payments.

Around 10 million people, or one in five adults, would struggle to manage in a society without cash, a report from the Royal Society of Arts commissioned by cash machine network Link found.

The older generation in particular is being left behind. One in three people dependent on cash are above 65. Some four million of those who would struggle most without cash are over 65 years old.

This section of society would face increased isolation, difficulty budgeting and a greater risk of being defrauded without access to physical currency, the report warned. A further 2.5 million of the most vulnerable were between 55 and 64.

This comes after the pandemic dramatically accelerated the country’s move away from notes and coins. The public now withdraws around £100m less from cash machines each day compared to before the pandemic, according to Link.

Meanwhile banks used Covid as an opportunity to accelerate their branch closure programmes. Last summer 99 branches closed their doors on average every month, according to Which?, the consumer group.

Cash machines are also disappearing. The number of free cash points has fallen by a quarter since January 2018, with fewer than 50,000 remaining. Some machines have started to charge for withdrawals, causing usage to fall.

The lack of bank branches has made it more difficult for retailers to deposit or access notes and coins which in turn has “nudged” some retailers and restaurants into refusing cash altogether, Natalie Ceeney of the Access to Cash review said.

Meanwhile the proportion of the population wholly reliant on physical currency has remained strong in the past three years, despite cash’s decline in that time, according to the RSA’s Mark Hall.

Mr Hall said: “For millions of people, their relationship with cash is critical to the way they manage their weekly budget. It’s vital that the dash to digital doesn’t disenfranchise anyone, especially with the cost-of-living crisis putting such significant strain on family finances right now.”

Around 80pc of people most dependent on cash use it to budget, with seven in 10 claiming they rely on cash to prevent them from falling into debt. Some 90pc of this group were concerned they would leave themselves open to fraud if they were forced to switch to digital payment methods.

The survey found the wider public also worried that a cashless society would reduce their control over finances and debt, lead to higher exposure to fraud, lower their privacy, and increase isolation.

Rural and remote communities were particularly concerned that poor broadband and mobile connectivity would make it harder for them to go fully digital, the report found.

Overall, 23 million people said that using cash made them feel more in control of their finances. Two-thirds were concerned about fraud when making payments and 57pc were concerned about privacy.

Meanwhile separate research commissioned by the Telegraph earlier this year found that six in 10 shoppers would support a move to make cash acceptance compulsory.

The survey, of more than half a million shoppers, also found that nearly half of the British public purposely avoid retailers that do not accept physical currency and that more than half of people believe the country is being pushed into cashlessness against its will.

There is no evidence that we about to be forced into a cashless society. The evidence is that we are using much less cash than we used to, largely from choice. That change in our habits requires the way cash continues to be made accessible has to be addressed. As does the loss of bank branches. But with the protection of ATM’s, banks’ cooperation with the post offices, the interest in banking hubs, the launch of cash without purchase, the number of people still using cash, the promised legislation to protect cash following last year’s consultation, we should be looking at a changing cash future rather than its demise.

LINK’s summary of the RSA report is https://www.link.co.uk/about/news/cash-census/
Simply expressing concern about the decline in cash usage and many people’s dependence upon cash does not mean it is going to disappear.

Britain being forced to go cashless ‘against its will’

There is no evidence that we about to be forced into a cashless society.

But one can identify a trend, surely?

Em says:
7 May 2022

Malcolm is right.

If we look at the ATM statistics published by Link, we can see that cash withdrawls from their machines roughly halved from £8 to £4 billion per month in April 2020. It has not fully recovered to the levels last seen in 2019. We are now now seeing a 30% drop in the value of cash withdrawals from the Link network (which does not include the banks’ own ATMs) due to changes in behaviour resulting from Covid-19.

I doubt Government Covid restrictions were designed to impact the use of cash one way or another – politicians simply aren’t that clever. So the decline in the use of cash is voluntary and not some sinisiter plot. I suspect many businesses once unwilling to handle “infected” cash have now discovered the convenience of cashless payments with card or phone, as have consumers not having bags, purses and pockets weighed down with useless change.

It is also worth noting that the various Covid restrictions led to a reduction in the total household expenditure, whether expended in cash, credit card or bank transfer, and a large increase in savings. So we would expect to see a corresponding fall in cash transactions too. It does not mean that cash is dying, and those who would claim otherwise are twisting statistics to suit their own agenda. We should be looking at the expenditure in cash as a proportion of all routine consumer transactions.

“The public now withdraws around £100m less from cash machines each day compared to before the pandemic, according to Link.” Well that depends on which period you choose to look at. And across the UK population as a whole, that amount represents less than the price of a cup of coffee per day. Maybe some people are working from home and don’t need as much cash for public transport, refreshments and sandwiches?

It is also worth remembering that High Street shopping was in decline even before the pandemic, which has now had a devastating impact on the rate of closures and the amount of stock available to buy in store. Last time I checked, Amazon and other Internet retailers don’t take cash. Statistics alone can’t tell us what is going on in the real world and to infer that cash will disappear from these declining numbers is simply wrong.

I would project that £80 billion+ will be withdrawn from Link ATMs this year alone – still about £1,500 per head of UK population, or over £100 per month for new ATM-driven cash transactions, probably more than the average pensioner’s disposable income. Note that this is still NOT an indication of the amount of cash in circulation. The black econony ensures that far more cash is in circulation, which never gets banked and re-issued via the ATM networks.

Recall: “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.” Or perhaps we should simply remember the telegram Mark Twain sent to a newpaper that published his obituary in error: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated“.

The trend is a reduction in the use of cash, but with billions of transactions made by many millions of people that does not imply its extinction.

Trends in cash usage
In recent years, cash payment volumes have fallen substantially, while the use of digital payment methods – led by debit cards – has accelerated. According to data from UK Finance (the largest trade association for banks and the financial services industry), the number of payments made in cash in the UK fell from over 20 billion in 2012 to less than half that in 2019. By that year, card payments had grown to 51% of all payments.

Despite the decline in the use of cash, it still accounted for 23 per cent of all payments in 2019 and was the second most common form of payment. Data from the British Retail Consortium meanwhile suggests that in 2018 cash comprised 38 per cent of all payments made to British retailers, amounting to a total of £77.7 billion.

Commons Library Research Briefing, 13 October 2021
Protecting access to cash

Em says:
7 May 2022

One afterthought. I don’t suppose that the promotion of BNPL transactions is having any effect on the demand for cash?

“Can I pay in cash for that?” “Yes, or you could defer you next visit to the ATM by up to three months with Klarna*”.

* Other BNPL providers are available.

I’m a little curious; you seem extremely exercised whenever money is mentioned, Malcolm. Which is, of course, your right, but is continuous denigration of Which? (and its hard-working staff) not unfair and also unacceptable?

From the outset in this topic the integrity of employees in this organisation, whose only fault is to work tirelessly on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, has been impugned.

I see no evidence of “negativity and continuing attempts to mislead by withholding essential information” and certainly not to “get us to support a blinkered mantra”.

Neither do I believe there was a “lack of complete and balanced information (which) has gone on for a number of years.”

As a member I want W? to use its muscle to fight what it perceives as injustice for those who feel powerless in the face of huge vested interests. And I certainly don’t believe they have “consistently misled (us) by unbalanced information,” nor do I see examples of “unsubstantiated scaremongering”.

It’s easy to forget there are real people working to make Which? effective and, although I do not always agree with everything they do or the ways in which they do it, I hope I’ve never suggested that any of them are ‘deceitful’, or have tried to withhold essential information or, indeed, presented unbalanced information. And I certainly do not believe that any would indulge in unsubstantiated scaremongering.

Since you appear to believe this skulduggery has been taking place for a number of years I have to ask: why stay with an organisation of which you clearly have such a low opinion?

Thank you for revising this comment somewhat, Ian.

First, I do not impugn nor denigrate individual members of Which? staff, nor have I. Those staff who contribute do so on behalf of Which? and it is Which? as a corporate body to whom I address my comments.

Second, when I have made comments I have generally provided information in support of my views so that others who are interested can make up their own minds. I am more than happy to see debate around that.

I won’t comment on the remainder. I just suggest reading my comments from the past, the support I provided and discuss the basis of those.

As for “skulduggery” that has never been my suggestion. Which? is an organisation almost totally funded by its Members and, on behalf of them and all consumers it seeks to represent, I simply expect it to present us with information that is fair, balanced and essentially complete and impartial. Particularly when it wants us to support a campaign.

It’s good to hear you have revised your original slant on Which’s employees. But I’m still concerned that some things need to be clarified: when you state

it is Which? as a corporate body to whom I address my comments

I am unsure as to how you separate your consistent allegations that you

see negativity and continuing attempts to mislead by withholding essential information, seemingly to get us to support a blinkered mantra

From a direct attack on Which? employees. They are, after all, the actions of W? employees.

And when you state

this lack of complete and balanced information has gone on for a number of years.

you are, surely, directly impugning the work done by W? researchers?

And finally, when you state

we have been consistently mislead by unbalanced information

from whom does that emanate if not W? employees?

I have not revised any stance. As I thought I had made clear, any criticisms (on the access to cash issue) were directed at Which?, not at individuals, since it is presumed what is said by employees of Which?’ represents the Which? position.

I think this would be a good place to leave this and move on. 🙂

But as I have already pointed out the conclusion that “what is said by employees of Which? represents the Which? position” makes certain assumptions, the most worrying being that we believe Which? provides unbiased and objective information, fuelled only by the facts.

Your stance appears to suggest that Which? employees have little to no freedom of thought; that they can only rely on some derivative of Newspeak to formulate their written submissions and that, in short, they cannot think for themselves.

I suspect it is impossible to separate what you call “Which? as a corporate body” from those hard working individuals who communicate with us, day in, day out. It is impossible to criticise Which? without also levelling immense criticism at the writers and researchers for that organisation.

Today I visited an unfamiliar pub and discover that it only accepted cash payments. There was also a prominent notice saying that it did not offer WiFi and customers should talk to each other. The last time I found a pub that only accepted cash it had gas lighting and notices banning the use of mobile phones.

There is no doubt that there has been a dramatic change in etiquette in pubs and other venues since smart phones proliferated. Social circles are no longer confined to the people physically present, external information sources are constantly being accessed to challenge or corroborate assertions, through camera technology other people are drawn into conversations, interruptions from unrelated parties are allowed to interfere with congenial discussions, orders are set up, bets are placed, facts are checked, matches are watched, the doorbell is monitored, and the grandchildren are under surveillance. I am pleased to learn that there is at least one bastion of proper behaviour where cash is still a necessity, and where decent interaction with friends or colleagues can take place under normal conditions. I hope it is also possible to hear the rattle of dominoes and the thud of darts with the accompanying exclamations of celebration by the players.

We cannot continue to live in the past. Already, Shove ha’penny will mean nothing to younger people since the demise of ha’pennies. Pubs no longer stink of cigarette smoke and with the rising cost of alcohol and the growing popularity of non-alcoholic drinks more people seem to visit to socialise than get drunk. There are fewer pubs, but often it is the best ones that have survived. We no longer have half a dozen large brewers dominating the market and small local breweries are thriving.

That is so. The last few times I have been in a pub I used plastic. It dulls the pain and disguises the cost of a round.

Robert Part says:
10 May 2022

They are trying to back us all into a corner by chipping away at all our freedoms and liberties until eventually we will be enslaved under a totalitarian technocracy. WAKE UP! Before it’s too late.

Gail Parr says:
10 May 2022

I prefer to use cash. Every time we use our bank cards to pay for things they know where and what we’re spending our money on. More and more of our lives are monitored. Banks control too much already. Homeless people rely on us giving them cash.

Albert roy Silver says:
14 May 2022

A computer has ability that is far above any scam.So why not use it to make online users feel protected.Us older learners soon get in a tiswas when we feel unsure when we do not know if it is a scam or not.If you cannot tell how do you expect us too.Pay £3 and we will delver your lost parcel,surely you can sort that one out and stop it.

Ron Jones says:
Today 13:45

Simply security codes could be used when doing any banking transactions only recognised by the banks including registered merchants and customers. This could deter online crinimals stealing our money who do not have any valid codes. Scammers could be identified immediately and transactions would be blocked. Stop using call centres in other countries because this is a recipe for fraud.