/ Money

Cash Summit: Securing our Freedom to Pay

We’re today hosting a follow-up summit to ensure cash remains a viable method of payment. We’re also launching our Cash Friendly Pledge – here’s how it works.

15/12/21: UK Finance proposals

Today, UK Finance launched proposals to support people’s access to cash. The solutions were achieved by the Access to Cash Action Group (CAG) created ahead of our Cash Summit in May, in which UK Finance Chief Executive David Postings made a series of commitments to enduring people can continue to access cash.

We welcome these proposals, but we believe that only legislation can secure cash’s future. Last week we called on banks to pause branch closures until new/alternative solutions to support access take effect.

We’ll be watching closely to see how the measures are working, and prevent communities from being cut adrift.

13/05/21: Post-meeting update

At today’s Cash Summit we were delighted to hear Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen confirm that a consultation on cash legislation will be launched in the Summer. This is an extremely positive development towards getting these critical long term protections introduced.

The government must deliver at pace on it’s promises, or risk leaving the cash system vulnerable to further damage. 

We also heard about UK Finance’s commitment to protecting access to cash, and the launch of its new Cash Action Group, which will be led by Access to Cash Review Chair, Natalie Ceeney, in addition to renewed commitments from the Post Office and major banks to supporting the provision of cash access for consumers.

While we welcome and support efforts from across the cash system to make progress on this issue, we are clear that voluntary initiatives or public commitments can not replace government or regulatory oversight. 

We now need a firm commitment from the Treasury on when this legislation to protect cash will be introduced, as the system will continue to be under enormous pressure until it is brought forward. 

Cash summit

Two years on from our first Cash Summit, we’re bringing together key figures from across government, regulators and the payments industry again to cover the challenges, following the outbreak of the pandemic, as well as the potential solutions, to ensuring cash can remain a viable method of payment for those with no other option.

Now is a critical juncture in the fight to protect access to cash. Despite the government’s commitment to legislation in last year’s Budget, this has still not been introduced, and we remain deeply concerned at the slow rate of progress in getting these protections agreed and in place.

Today, our Chief Executive Anabel Hoult will be calling on the government to set out when legislation to protect access to cash will be brought forward, and to provide greater clarity about its long term plan to ensure that the millions still reliant on cash can continue to access it as the shift to digital intensifies.

The event will include speeches and contributions from Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen, FCA Executive Director of Consumers and Competition Sheldon Mills, Natalie Ceeney, who chaired the powerful Access to Cash review, Matt Hammerstein, CEO of Barclays, Jeni Mundy, MD of Visa UK & Ireland, David Postings, CEO of UK Finance and Nick Butt, Head of the Future Money Division at the Bank of England. 

Our Cash Friendly Pledge

To coincide with our event, we’re also launching our Cash Friendly Pledge, working with some of the biggest names in retail to protect people’s ability to spend cash.

The pandemic has undoubtedly had a dramatic impact on the way we access and spend cash. While many people have successfully made the jump to digital payments, enjoying the convenience and speed that cards and contactless can offer, there still remain millions of consumers who rely on cash.

In fact, our recent research found that 2.5 million people depend on cash for every transaction, while 10 million people say they are unready, or unable, to give it up. 

However, with more people shopping online and concerns that cash is unsafe to handle – which have since been debunked by the Bank of England – some businesses have discouraged the use of cash over card, or gone completely cashless altogether, leaving millions shut out from buying the things they need.

Late last year we found around one in three consumers had reported being unable to pay with cash at least once when trying to buy something since coronavirus restrictions were first introduced, including even essentials like food and medicine. 

That’s where our Cash Friendly Pledge comes in: a public commitment from businesses that they’re accepting cash as a payment method across their stores.

Who’s taken the pledge?

So far, we’ve seen some of the biggest supermarkets and pharmacies take our Pledge, including Aldi, Asda, Co-op, John Lewis, LloydsPharmacy and Waitrose. What’s more, we’ve also been backed by leading retail associations that represent tens of thousands of shops across the country.

The British Retail Consortium, Association of Convenience Stores and the British Independent Retailers Association are all encouraging their members to sign up. The Bank of England has said that by signing up “businesses are helping to ensure that everyone in the UK is able to use the form of payment that best meets their needs”.

You can find out more about the pledge and see the full list of businesses involved here.

Additionally, we’ve supplied retailers with Cash Friendly Logos which they can use to signpost their cash accepting status in store and online, ensuring consumers feel confident that their cash won’t be rejected at the till. 

Which businesses would you like to see take the pledge? Let us know if you’ve spotted the logos while out and about and help us ensure that cash remains a viable payment method.


I use cash when I open my garden for charity.
I get paid in cash in my job.
I like to have cash in case I see something second hand I would like to buy on any of the buy/swap/sell sites. I can’t imagine not using it.

J Barrie says:
23 December 2021

My Local branch of HSBC has just declared itself a digital branch. This means there are no longer any Tellers in the building just machines for withdrawing Cash or paying in cheques and Notes.
They will no longer accept Coins. When queried this I was told to go to the Post Office!
This is getting to be a ludicrous situation, do customers have no rights or recourse whatsoever.
Next I expect to hear that as “footfall” has inevitably dropped, the Branch will be scheduled for closure as not enough customers are using it. The reduction in use of cash is not just by popular demand it is being engineered by the the Major Banks because it suits them.

William says:
23 December 2021

My local branch of Virgin Money at Mexborough is closing,the nearest one is at Rotherham.I prefer to use cash when purchasing items because I have had quite a few problems when using my card.Also when things go wrong it is much easier to talk to someone who is in front of you.Many times when I have used the telephone to sort things out,you need to be armed with a flask and sandwiches because it takes so long to get through.As a pensioner who is not very savvy when it comes to modern technology,I have a deep mistrust when banks do not provide a service which I want and are only thinking of their needs

Sandie says:
24 December 2021

Barclays in Long Eaton has closed. Nearest one now is Beeston – quite a journey for Long Eaton residents.

Heidi says:
28 December 2021

My local Branch of Lloyds is closing in Seaford. The nearest branch is Eastbourne but I am advised that we should expect the future to be online banking across the board.
Meanwhile I will have to drive over to Eastbourne, park and walk to my bank …I am an active senior
I find this insulting and a total waste of time, fuel, journey, never mind the added cost which is at my expense not the banks.
It’s all very well but as a customer you have less say about your money, how to spend it and how to bank it… now the large banks are telling us how we can access it.
Somebody has to put a stop to this. The banks are literally telling us where to go to gain access to our hard earned cash.
The large utility companies ie GAS / ELECTRIC etc prefer their payments by Direct Debit …
They PREFER to deduct monthly amounts direct from our bank accounts and promise to refund us for anything we haven’t used. What is the point of having money …when every other service tells us what THEY can do with OUR money …
What happens when they do not refund us immediately we have the added problem of driving to a bank …to resolve things because you have taken the ready cash option away.
I like to have cash to pay for small items which you cannot use a card for unless you spend more.
Paying by cash is our right it is not a privilege. Please remember WHO the customer is !
Reducing costs is one thing but do not cut out the personal touch it is seriously undervalued.
Value your bank tellers and more importantly the customers money without which you would not have a bank.

Went out for the day & drew out some cash so didn’t overspend. At the restaurant they refused to take my money! Kept asking where my card was!! I said not everyone has one & why can’t they take the cash? In the end they got a member of staff to pay on card & he had to take the money! What is the world coming to?? Why should we be told how to pay?

Jo — Perhaps you should have left the right money on the table, got up and left the restaurant!

D Knott says:
31 December 2021

I went to local branch of HSBC to change some larger notes for smaller denominations to pay helper, to discover they no longer offer this service. To get that service you need to go to a branch that is too far to get to without transport.
If ATM’s also disappear then how are people who are sick or disabled or have no transport, or are vulnerable to Covid and can’t safely use public transport able to obtain cash? A lot of services like cleaners and gardeners are paid in cash and cannot afford card machines.
Also, it is dangerous to put all your eggs in the tech basket. When there is a power outage or software failure shop tills etc don’t work.

Without the ability to make change as there seem to be no ATMs left that dispense £5 notes, let alone coins, I guess we will have to start using the services of small traders to the nearest £10, rather that by the hour.

I’m sure I could ask the gardener to do exactly £40 worth of gardening and he will stop short of the customary 3 hours, but I’m not sure how the window cleaner is going to cope with cleaning £20 worth of windows.

From the LINK website:

Access to £5 Notes to Help Consumers get Small Balances

We know from customer feedback that cash can help customers on low incomes manage their money more effectively and that these customers value the ability to get smaller balances from their accounts. Some LINK ATMs dispense £5 notes and to find your nearest one please use Advanced Search on our Cash Locator. If you are a member of the public and you would like to nominate an existing cash machine to dispense £5 notes, please get in please get in touch.


D Knott made a perfectly reasonable request that was declined. Banks are there to provide the public with a service.

One of the features of cash without purchase from retailers is/will be the ability to withdraw exactly how much you want. I presume that this also applies to post offices. I keep a small collection of coins topped up for those rare occasions where change is not given, as well as for other purposes.

To some extent, at least, we need to organise ourselves and not continually shift responsibility onto others. It is not a perfect world.

Banks are commercial organisations. You can always move your account if you are not happy with your own. Do we think Starling Bank, and others that are online only, should be criticised for not offering a physical presence?

nia525@gmail.com says:
2 January 2022

I fee that banks and all financial institutions would have a similar obstacles as anyone else apart that they have more experience and tools to deal with, as the All situation is a distrustful jungle amongst society, I believe that more effort for simplified secure plans need to be programmed to help society’s. For example for a small fee everyone could have a subscription with an institution such as which or state designed organization that everybody could afford or should subscribe

Ruth Greenan says:
4 January 2022

Having recently been scammed of a hefty sum, I am not allowed online banking, and can only get cash from ATM’s and for transfers have to go into the bank, also for new payments (direct debits, Standing orders, one off’s). We need ATM’s BUT we really need our banks on the high street. I am disabled following a brain tumour and have processing difficulties, and 30% hearing, so phone banking does not work for me. SAVE OUR ATMs and PLEASE don’t add charges for using them.

Bruce Webb says:
5 January 2022

Like many people on here I have found increasingly in London there are places not taking cash – and some of them are government institutions – like the BFI Southbank Cafe. I have found complaining at the staff is really not fair as they take the brunt of the complaints, not the owners and managers. What I have started to do instead is leaving google reviews which are fair about the service and staff but knocked a couple of stars off because they are cashless. I feel this is the best way to get the owners to listen.
As well I run a small business and I find cash a lot easier to use than machines and cards (its a beach business) and I am also increasingly finding the card charges more than the cash charges. Especially as I can take and pay wages in cash which reduces costs.
Keep up the campaign !

I don’t understand the mentality of hospitality venues, which are on their soapbox everyday bemoaning their fate, turning away customers who wish to enjoy their services but prefer to spend cash instead of using cards. I am not aware of any evidence that handling cash is a health hazard in any way; presenting a portable card reader still requires close engagement with the customer. In the summer I used seaside cafés where the pay point was behind a transparent screen with an aperture at counter level for payment and change to be exchanged. We go back to such establishments.

It would be interesting to find out the reasons that small businesses are moving to cashless operation. Like consumers they may have problems caused by closure of bank branches, making it difficult to bank cash.

That might well be the case in many places, but surely not in the capital?

So far as I know, the BFI [British Film institute] is not a government institution but is certainly part of the corporate charity sector and their South Bank café is possibly operated by a large commercial caterer with multiple outlets, standardised menus and uniform policies as is the case at many cultural venues nowadays. The National Trust is moving rapidly in that direction replacing small local businesses with homogenised offerings.

Businesses can bank cash at post offices.

Bruce Webb says:
6 January 2022

Hi John the BFI is the government film agency (I work in film and tv too) but having spoken to them about my membership cancellation they say Benugos the owners of their cafe franchises have decided not to use cash and they cant do anything about this.

Bruce Webb says:
6 January 2022

Im also suprised anyone would exclude customers. I think it might be a move to stop staff stealing money ? The costs to put cash in the bank can be less than card charges. Post offices take cash as well.

Thank you, Bruce. I had not realised that the BFI was an agent of the government. I note from its website that it describes itself as “a cultural charity, a National Lottery distributor, and the UK’s lead organisation for film and the moving image”. I had assumed it was largely funded by the motion picture industry including broadcast networks.

Benugo seems to be a leading player in franchised catering operations. The name turns up at railway termini and John Lewis department stores. It used to be the case that “he who calls the piper calls the tune” and that “the customer was king”, but it appears that contractors have the upper hand these days.

Mark Young says:
16 January 2022

I have seen a recent worrying trend in not allowing customers to use cash.
The latest ones I have seen are in Tesco supermarkets at the self scan tills, and also in theatres where they only accept NFC payment cards.
I don’t have any NFC cards, so I was annoyed when I queued to get ice cream in the interval and was unable to buy any.