/ Money

Protect access to cash: email your MP

Today we’re launching a new tool enabling people to send an email to their MP, asking them to push the government to support people who need access to cash.

24/03/22: Email your MP

After more than 6,000 letters were sent to more than 800 local and regional papers by our campaign supporters last month, today we’re launching a new tool that enables people to email their MP.

The government committed to legislate to protect access to cash two years ago, but it still hasn’t been introduced. This is despite the pandemic putting significant pressure on the cash network, ongoing cuts to the bank branch and ATM network, and the release of a Call for Evidence and Consultation on legislative proposals last year. 

If urgent action isn’t taken to protect access to cash for consumers, millions of people who depend on cash will be at risk of financial exclusion with no way to pay for the goods and services they need in their daily lives.

Please email your MP and ask them to raise the issue in Parliament, to get answers from HM Treasury around when legislation will be introduced. 

Use our tool to email your MP here

16/03/22: Update: 6,461 letters sent

Thank you to everyone who took part in this initiative last month. Thanks to you, 6,461 letters were sent to newspapers, up and down the country, from people frustrated by the increasing number of ATM and bank branch closures – impacting both them and their community.

16/02/22: Write to local papers

Today we’re asking people to write to their regional papers to highlight the impact of lost access to cash in their community, raise awareness about the issue and encourage the government to take action.

(this supporter action initiative has now closed – thank you to everyone who took part)

Lost access to cash not only impacts individuals, but the communities they’re a part of. Local businesses often form the heart of local communities, but many have suffered enormously as a result of the pandemic, with successive lockdowns forcing them to shut their doors for months at a time.

Cash refusal

We’ve found an increase in cash refusal since the start of the pandemic, with acceptance rates still not back to what they were despite restrictions being lifted. And not only has cash been getting more difficult to spend, the pandemic has deepened problems with accessing it too, with ATM and bank branch closures affecting local communities across the country. 

There’s no denying that digital payments are a good thing, providing real benefits to many consumers. Despite this, the UK is just not ready to go completely cashless. There are millions of people who are reliant on cash who aren’t yet ready or able to move to digital payments, and they will continue to need to withdraw and spend it. This includes some of society’s most vulnerable.

These concerns have been voiced by small businesses, two thirds of whom have identified cash as a factor that they think will be important to their recovery. 

But action needs to be taken to protect these customers. If the current trend of ATM and bank branch closures continue, more consumers will be left without access to a key payment method, with a potentially devastating knock-on effect on local businesses and the communities they are part of.

Write to your local paper

That’s why today, we’re launching our new tool, which enables people to write to their local and regional newspapers and spread the word amongst other local residents. Let’s get this issue on the agenda of local political representatives.

Make sure your messages using the tool are assertive but polite. Keep them brief (around 150-200 words is ideal) – we’ve listed a full set of tips on how to go about it on the page.

Will you help us raise awareness? Let us know your experiences of cash refusal, bank branch and ATM closures in the comments.

Crusader says:
10 April 2022

One thing that really bothers me about all this, and needless to say I should’ve thought of it much further back in this discussion is that if the government do end the use of cash then it’s highly likely that there would then be OUTRAGEOUS EXclusion and discrimination against who are only eligible for “minor” cards like electron, and there’s already far too much such discrimination but if cash were scrapped then it would most likely go right off the scale with poorer folk, who are severely disabled and cannot work, or who are able but cannot find any work and who can only have a so-called “minor” card locked out of all manner of essentials because of blatant elitism and discrimination by all manner of vendors like quite a few who I deal with who won’t accept minor cards, but who thank goodness do accept paypal, which doesn’t always work with some sites. And it’s only since I won my PIP tribunal that I can finally have a more “major” card for use where paypal is not accepted or won’t work etc. But of course not all disabled folk applying for PIP will get it and will have to keep their lousy “minor” cards and be arrogantly locked out of all manner services and products etc. which is totally unacceptable. So if the government DID scrap cash then they MUST also outlaw discrimination against the use of minor cards too wherever practical. And there’s already far too much elitism going on which needs dealing with but just like the already outrageous situation with the new trains it’s always ignored which MUST change.

……..if the government do end the use of cash……
There is no indication that this is the case (unless someone produces evidence to the contrary). We should keep this issue in perspective.

I was not aware that Visa Electron is treated any differently by retailers, or that there is discrimination against any legally-protected characteristic that is inherent its deployment or usage.

Granted you cannot have an overdraft with an Electron card, but then I am not aware how cash provides this facility either.

Crusader says:
10 April 2022

Who wants an overdraft? There are plenty of traders and service providers who will not accept minor cards, like home insurers and some online trade suppliers, and I have had an electron card refused in shops before now. And it was also refused by a mechanised card reader at a tram stop, and that’s just a few examples so as you can see there IS a problem, an attitude problem, or maybe there’s more to it but to me it looks too much like condescending prejudice and this needs to be dealt with too in any campaigning on this issue, plus the government need to get their finger out too and deal with it as we can’t have such outrageous elitism and exclusion as if we can no longer have cash then there has to be an equally usable alternative without any exclusion as not everyone on welfare lives in “social” housing and some of us who cannot work still need to use trade suppliers and insurers etc. and use public transport.

Rishi Sunak and his department are very keen to move towards digital or crypto currency.
It will be much easier to control the flow of individual’s finances and ensure government knows every penny we have.
It also acts as a control if an individual speaks out against or disagrees with those in authority.
I personally like to have a little cash in my purse. It encourages me to think about what I’m spending day to day.
Banks justify branch closures by saying the demand for online banking is the reason.
They have practically blackmailed us into using online to try and save a penny or two. It is not because the customer wants it.There is no substitute for personal service and knowing the staff you are interacting with.
On some occasions it is the only human contact we have in a day. That goes for younger and older customers. Loneliness is not only an affliction of the elderly.
Banks are there to provide a service which WE pay for. They would do well to remember this as would the MRS who are supposed to serve us.It is we who pay their salaries.
The words Public and Civil servants seem to have conveniently changed to something that has more to do with lining pockets and living the good life at the expense of the people.

Maria King says:
10 May 2022

After a day out with a relative in London I found it demoralizing that so few of the businesses were taking cash, on a walk down the Southbank I found one pub that took it all the restaurants I went into said no cash, then off into another area, into a cafe, card only and you had to order using a computer screen which was at a height only an able bodied literate person could use, not accessible to wheelchair users.

My pensioner relative with me who wanted to pay is unable to use cards, and only uses cash and has been turned away from places as a result which is frightening depressing and demoralizing, if I am with him I can pay but when he is out on his own I cant help him out, ( I live an hour and a half away from him). Luckily so far most of his local shops still take cash, but if he travels into certain areas, he has had problems.

People on the basic state pension and benefits, people on low incomes who micro manage every penny, people who are illiterate or with other disabilities, many of these cannot use or afford to use a mobile with a banking app to constantly check their balance. They need their cash.

They feel safe knowing what they have drawn out they can spend with no worries of going overdrawn or getting into debt, or embarrassed at the till if their card gets rejected as they have spent a few pennies too much and cant go overdrawn. I feel in some parts of London they just don’t want poor people using their facilities.

Although in the home counties where I live most places take cash, I see more businesses refusing it. Unless something is done certain groups in society will really be affected by this, it’s all very well making cash available via cashpoints, but what if businesses just reject it, surely this is blatant discrimination and should not be allowed.

Very good points, Maria, from a different perspective from most comments.

I didn’t hear catch anything in the Queen’s Speech earlier today about forthcoming legislation to maintain the acceptance of cash but will check the papers in the morning. If it has been shunted aside I think we should all approach our MP’s.

I have checked the list of forthcoming bills in Wednesday’s Daily Telegraph. A bill to protect cash is projected as follows —

Financial Services and Markets Bill
Banks will have to keep high street branches and cash machines so people can access paper money in a move designed to protect the elderly and vulnerable.

This does not make the acceptance of cash mandatory by retailers with a physical presence, so further lobbying will be required.

Thanks for that John. I posted it as I am not seeing anyone anywhere else on line put all this in writing, not even the campaigns to protect cash and journalists, they just don’t explain and go into enough detail to make people get it.

The “I’m alright Jack” brigade do not see any problem with a cashless society, as it simply does not affect them.

Melanie Cannavo says:
11 May 2022

This can not happen. Who wants to be tracked for everything they buy? No more giving spare change to beggers, no tooth fairy money, this is about control and getting people into debt