/ 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.

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.

Shelley says:
30 May 2021

If they top1 percent control the finances they control everything. In communist states that have gone digital, people who disagree with the state are being switched off from their finances, their lives. The average business loses £3100 pounds a year in digital fraud according to a police advert. It’s not secure, it’s about control. Cash is vital. We need to save it.

Dardy says:
31 May 2021

One time I wanted a bottle of water it was $2 I give them a two dollar coin ibwas looked at funny I said you want payment of do you want me to walk off with it I put the coin down and walked off

The latest press release says ”The government must move quickly with its plans to safeguard access to cash through legislation, to ensure that the system remains viable for as long as it is needed.
The Government seems to be on the case as their Access to Cash – Call for evidence – dated Oct 2020 says:
”1.3The transition towards digital payments brings many opportunities, including the facilitation of enhanced competition in payments services. Nonetheless, cash remains an essential payment mechanism for many. Responses to the government’s 2018 ‘Call for Evidence on Cash and Digital Payments in the New Economy’3 highlighted the importance of cash as a symbol of independence, as well as an important budgeting tool, and as a way that elderly or vulnerable people can access social opportunities.4
1.4 In recognition of this, the government committed at March 2020 Budget to bring forward legislation to protect access to cash and ensure that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable in the long term. This will ensure that those who may be less able to benefit from wider moves to digital payment methods are not left behind, and that cash continues to be available for those that need to use it.
1 ‘UK Finance Payments Market 2020’, UK Finance, June 2020.
2 ‘Statistics and trends’, LINK, accessed on 8 October 2020.
3 ‘Cash and digital payments in the new economy’, HM Treasury, March 2018.
4 ‘Cash and digital payments in the new economy: summary of responses’, HM Treasury, May 2019.
1.5 The government is progressing the design of legislation at pace, informed by a process of close engagement with the financial regulators, financial services firms, and other interested parties. This call for evidence seeks views on the key considerations associated with cash access, including deposit and withdrawal facilities, cash acceptance, and regulatory oversight of the cash system. Responses will further assist in informing the development of the government’s legislation.

I presume Which? will be submitting evidence. There has been plenty of material posted on Convos. I’m not sure we need to panic just yet.

Rita says:
7 June 2021

The government needs to do more to investigate attempts at fraud and actual fraud. They are complacent and failing to protect the public from increasingly convincing daily scam attempts via phone and text.

Anyone who is considering moving from cash to cards needs to be aware of the need to protect their money.

Contactless cards are extremely convenient but must be treated as carefully as cash because anyone could spend your money if they manage to acquire your card. It’s worth putting the number for reporting lost/stolen cards in your mobile phone so that you can contact the bank immediately you are aware that a card is missing. The contactless spend limit was £30 but has been raised twice and is now £100. Unlike stolen cash there is a chance of recovering some or all of your money if you act promptly.

A credit or debit card has your account name, number and sort code printed on the front. These are not secret information and anyone who has ever payed by cheque will have provided these details to the person/company/organisation they have paid. What must be kept secret is the three digit number (CVV) printed on the back of cards. This number is provided when ordering goods online or over the phone and hopefully the recipient will not pass it on. I delete the CVV with a black marker because I don’t want to risk anyone finding it. I don’t know if others do this.

Deborah Fuller says:
15 June 2021

I have been scammed twice by post offices. IT clearly says in their brochure that a large letter can be up to 2.5 cm thick and cost under£2 but they put it through a smaller gauge and then charge me for a small parcel (3.20). This has happened twice.

Deborah – I find it hard to believe that the post office you used for posting the packet used an inaccurate measuring frame. The dimensions are not the only criteria: there is also a weight limit of 750 g for a large letter; is it possible that the item was overweight?

Em says:
19 June 2021

@deborah – If you already know how much your item should cost, why do you pay the higher cost of a parcel? That is not a “scam” (a fraud) – you have not been tricked into handing over money, especially since you have done it twice now.

If you are so sure you are right, go online to the Royal Mail website and buy your postage there, or just weigh the item on kitchen scales and buy a stamp of the right value. Then apply and post the item yourself in a convenient post box.

”UK Finance’s Access to Cash Action Group that was formed last month needs to quickly set out what it intends to do to back up its commitment to safeguarding cash, while the government must make progress on its long-promised legislation to protect cash and ensure it remains a viable payment option for as long as it is needed.
According to their latest report, cash transactions are the second most used method of payment and about 20% of all payments, by volume, are made using cash. It would therefore seem very unlikely that cash will not be supported for the foreseeable future. The government have committed to that.

Missyk says:
18 June 2021

I watched people outside a local pub just out of curiosity ordering food &drinks some obviously over £45 so pin needed on card payment(they didn’t except cash) this happened on multiple occasions over 3hrs at least 30 people tapped in pins&the card reader was not wiped once,so I ask everyone why is this safer then cash?spreading the virus still the same,bring back cash spending so we can live within our budget&take control of our finances without worrying

The contactless limit was raised from £45 to £100 in March 2021.

I have not seen any evidence of anyone being infected from touching contaminated cash or the keypad of a card reader.

It was announced it will be raised, not that it was:
The limit on a single payment using contactless card technology will rise to £100 later this year, the Treasury has confirmed.
It has been less than a year since the limit was raised from £30 to £45.
Regulators say businesses could still decide themselves whether to accept the higher limit.


Pubs have increasingly facilitated [or insisted on] card payments for drinks and meals, possibly for security reasons as rounds of drinks and multiple meals can run up a high bill these days. For outside service a card reader payment is more convenient than a cash payment, possibly avoiding the need for the waiter or waitress to return to the till and come back with change; the payment is registered and receipted immediately and removes any room for error or dispute. I would expect cash payment to resume as an option when normal service is restored. It does seem that many businesses are using Covid-19 as a reason for making changes to working practices.

Although there might be no reported cases of infection from contact with cash, staff in the hospitality business could be reluctant to handle it because of the general apprehension of risks from physical contact. There has also been an unprecedented and uncharacteristic outbreak of hygiene concern in this country that has affected behaviour. I don’t understand why numerous people touching a card reader is perceived to be less risky than handing over some notes and coins. It is possible to pass a contactless payment card across the face of a card reader without having to touch the machine but I have noticed that many people do in fact handle it.

The general public has little understanding of how infections are spread, John. When smoking was popular it was perceived that if cigarette ash in food was very unhygienic. It’s certainly unpleasant but since ash has been red hot, there is no risk of infection.

Malcolm – You are right about the £100 contactless card limit. It’s interesting that careless customers who lose their card can have most or all of their money refunded, funded by those who are more careful. 🙁

I think the public’s alarm has been fostered by apocryphal tales, occasionally recounted here at the outbreak of our epidemic, of people metaphorically donning NBC suits and telescopic tongs in order to open their mail and sterilise their shopping. I might have exaggerated a little, but I think the virus and potential disease were genuinely frightening for a large proportion of the population who felt that nothing touched by anyone else was safe.

Em says:
19 June 2021

Pub chains will continue to prefer card payments because there are too many opportunities for cash transactions to be under-recorded at the till, especially where table service is involved.

Any leakage of cash needs to be accounted for when it comes to stock taking, so the customer can expect to be served beer dregs, substitutions for premium brands, draught mixers and short measures when the manager is on the make. Never order a liquer coffee mixed – ask for the liquer served in a separate glass.

At the start of the pandemic we did not know what we were dealing with and I remember leaving my mail spread out over the windowsill of a south-facing bay window for a couple of days before opening it.

Em says:
19 June 2021

As to catching an infection from cash or a pin pad, I would be far more concerned about drinking from dirty glasses. In the national chain where the manager expected me operate the above practices, the glass washing machine was often broken or had run out of detergent/sanitiser. I did my best to repair or refill it on the nights I was working; otherwise the glasses were just rinsed in cold water in a sink. I recall we had an allocation of two laundered
tea towels per night for wiping and mopping up spillages.

Hopefully things have improved backstage since my temping to earn extra money, but just looking at the state of the carpets in some pubs today, I doubt it.

Did you remember to turn your mail over?

It is quite understandable that, when little was understood generally about Covid, we should be ultra-cautious to prevent as far as possible picking up the deadly disease. I used gloves when handling post before opening it, vinyl gloves when out shopping, avoided close contact with anyone including family (it is a two way transmission).

It is a great pity that a preventive approach was not adopted by some others, who chose to travel abroad, attend mass gatherings, not accept vaccinations because, whatever regulations are in place, they are the guilty ones who helped Covid to spread.

I certainly did turn it over. Rather than wearing gloves when shopping it would be better to avoid shopping and other enclosed spaces whenever possible.

Joy says:
8 July 2021

I must admit that when I do my shopping I tend to pay by credit card and find that I have spent to much where as if I paid by cash then I would not be able to overspend as it would be very embarrassing at the till. I think that the big company’s and supermarkets are taking advantage of the way people are doing there shopping these days and with the pandemic which will be with us for some time is changing the way we shop, I don’t go out as much as I use to as I have got an illness and can not afford to go down with any infections.

Nicola Ball says:
30 July 2021

Agree Missyk so very much …

Joy – While it is true that some people cannot seem to control their spending to suit their means, I don’t believe that in itself is a sufficient reason to favour cash. It should have equal status and availability with other means of payment. The point is not to reduce access to cash, but to leave it to people’s good sense to manage their money as they think best. Where people get into financial difficulties through their spending habits, other mechanisms come into play to impose control. There are various risks and disadvantages in relying entirely on cash and it is better to select the most appropriate form of payment according the scale of the transaction and the money at their disposal.

Historically, cash sometimes gave a price advantage but that is less common now and the better prices are often for goods bought on-line. What will work best in each instance comes down to good sense and responsibility.

AS says:
21 June 2021

A night out in London potentially could have been ruined !! To avoid overspending, we had some cash on us to pay for our drinks – we went to 3 different establishments. A hotel bar, a rooftop bar and a cocktail bar – not one of them would accept cash as payment. The hotel bar manager explained it was the hotel policy now not to accept cash due to Covid. But strangely they were able to accept their tip with cash!!!!!!! It’s all completely bonkers and extremely annoying. We were very grateful to eventually find room in a traditional pub that accepted our cash.

I recently arrived at the Tyne Tunnel, on the way to stay with friends. I was surprised that payment in coins was expected since there was no opportunity to obtain change for payment with folding money. There was no opportunity to pay the £1.90 by card. I was able to take a ticket that allowed me to pay online by the end of the next day or face a substantial penalty.

I have been discussing this and have been told that to cross the Humber Bridge it is now necessary to pay by card, and that cash is not accepted.

All rather confusing. What happened to choice? Perhaps we need to think about those who don’t use computers and smartphones.

Always been responsible paying bills but only at banks,would be lost as don’t know anything about iphones,apps,would be totally lost in a cashless society.the atm machines are great for getting your money,and you can budget on how much your spending,have my own system,I’m 72 haven’t got the head space to change now,so keep cash,and introduce atms back.

I was scammed out of nearly twenty thousand pounds by a scam investment brokerage called Finvesting who are owned by Sanako and are based in the Marshall Islands. I would urge everyone to write to your local newspapers and share this petition as many times as possible. There are petitions regarding investment scammers on other sites to so sign as many as possible. Leave reviews about the company that scammed you so that when people are researching a company they can read your warning. Stay away from investment companies based in the Marshall Islands or Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as they are off shore and the governments are allowing these to think they can steal from anyone and get away with it. Report them to your countries equivalent to the Uk Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

Mr Glenn Boylan says:
8 July 2021

I will be very surprised if this petition does anything. 7 of the cabinet have already been found guilty of “acting unlawfully” (breaking the law to you and me). I don’t think this is a government that wants to help citizens. It wants to help it’s friends in the banking and property industry. They’ve already stolen billions from us and given it to their friends. I think we might need a more Icelandic approach to letting our politicians know what we think of them.

Mark P says:
8 July 2021

Had my first and last bank appointment via Zoom- I was not comfortable- impossible to read social cues, hence the interview was punctuated with both of us intrupting one another. An ordeal to say the least.

Sandra says:
8 July 2021

Many baby boomers and even younger folk are very, very insecure with smart technology.
Through the closure of banks, building societies and post offices folk are forced into using new technology and hence become vulnerable to the very clever scams.
There is also immense pressure on using plastic rather than cash, this links to use of technology and opens such age groups to the scams.

Well done for setting up the campaign but good luck persuading turkeys to vote for Christmas. A corrupt government financed by wealthy donors is unlikely to clip the wings of the organisations they plan to get jobs with when they’ve finally done killing us off and chucking our dosh at their mates while the poor, disabled and children suffer. The reassuring welcome given to Handjob by chairman Greg Clark when he appeared before the health select committee says it all. The regulators are toothless. The serial liar Johnson is even now pushing ahead with a legislative agenda to centralise more power in the executive. When they said “We’re all in in this together”, that didn’t include us.

Paul Hockie says:
8 July 2021

Has anybody noticed that many of the retailers only offer their “loyalty” scheme to “app” users. Sainsbury are one of the worst for this through Nectar Points. The monthly vouchers are now online so have to be printed out if you want to buy in-store – so why not use the app and pay with your phone. John Lewis and M&S offer similar schemes. While saying they support the cash campaign they are incentivising the use of phome payments.

Joannie Wynde says:
8 July 2021

As victims of a scam twice because it was passed on by the original criminals and we were approached 2 years later and offered the chance to recover some of the original loss, I would suggest that the title “Action Fraud” is a complete misnomer and the organisation should be retitled “Inaction Fraud” !
International gangsters are running rings around the police and banks and there is nothing the victims can do to pursue their cases.

Sheila says:
8 July 2021

I know how to report scam texts – but can’t seem to find out where to report scam/unsolicited mobile calls. Anyway know how to do this. I block the phone numbers – but it’s increasingly annoying. In this day and age and for many reasons my mobile phone number is out there – but who’s passing it on!

Robert Beard says:
8 July 2021

Got caught in the early hours by an advert on face book.
Told Nat West via their web site. They refunded me.