/ Money

Access to cash: join our week of action

If action isn’t taken, cash as we know it today could be gone in two years’ time. Join us in calling for the government to protect access in the upcoming budget.

Getting access to your own money is under threat.

In the past two years alone, almost 10,000 ATMs have closed across the UK and more than 3,000 bank branches have closed their doors.

All the while, consumers are paying more and more to take cash out of an ATM. It’s unacceptable that almost a quarter of the ATM network now charges people just to access their own money.

Last year, people paid £100m in withdrawal fees. These changes hit those on the lowest incomes the hardest.

This comes despite the fact that, last May, a new Joint Authorities Cash Strategy Group (JACS) was set up by the Treasury – but there has been no public progress update.

It’s time for action now

1.9m people in the UK are solely reliant on cash, while it’s thought that 8m would struggle in a cashless society.

If action isn’t taken, this situation will only get worse; LINK has now said that without government intervention, cash as we know it today could be completely gone in just two year’s time.

Cash could be gone in 2 years

If action isn’t taken cash as we know it today could be gone in two years time. Are you worried about bank branch closures, or free-to-use ATMs vanishing from your high streets, or being forced to pay to access your own money?

Posted by Which? Money on Monday, February 24, 2020


It’s clear that we cannot rely on industry goodwill alone. These ad-hoc initiatives will not be enough to save cash over the long-run and risk leaving people and communities slipping through the gaps.

That’s why, this week, we’re calling for the government to step in.

In the upcoming budget on 11 March, we want the government to legislate to protect access to cash for the millions of people who rely on it across the country.

What we’re doing

Today marks the start of a week of action to save bank branches and ATMs across the country.

This week, we’re asking you to join our calls on the government by adding your voice to our campaign.

You can also support us on Twitter using the hashtag #protectcash to share your stories.

Create your tweet with our tool here

On Wednesday, Anabel Hoult, the CEO of Which? will be writing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, outlining why the government must act now and what we want to see happen.

We’ll be publishing the letter in full here on Which? Conversation.

On Friday she’ll then be taking your stories directly to Downing Street.

Digital innovation can be a good thing and, for those of us who have a choice, digital payments can bring real benefits. But it’s clear that we are not ready to go cashless yet.

Thank you for your support – we’ll be updating this page next week to let you know the progress we’ve made.

Mrs Mary Hurdle says:
26 February 2020

It is essential that we retain cash. Not everyone want to use the plastic card or maybe do not have a bank account. The use of the plastic card gets some people into debt. You cannot buy anything without cash in certain circumstances such as a market or pay a tradesmen who comes to your house to do a very small job such as cutting your grass. It is the coin of the realm so why should we be deprived or it?

Karen says:
26 February 2020

Our elderly population couldn’t function without cash if they have mobility or other health problems and can’t get out of the house. They would have to give secure information to other people, how would they be protected?
If there were to be a cyber attack / power outage / failure of the internet / digital communications issues no money transfer would be possible. We must maintain the option of using cash.

Using cash rather than contactless plastic cards gives a much better idea of how much money you have and how much you are spending. I am sure that contactless cards can lead to debt in the wrong hands. It is very difficult to keep track of how much you are spending when all you have to do is tap. Lots of tradesmen and charities are unable to deal with cards. They want to be paid in cash. And how would you deal with things like raffles and church collections. Please leave our cash alone and let people decide which is best for them

LINK has now said that without government intervention, cash as we know it today could be completely gone in just two year’s time.“.
I believe that this comment may well have been taken out of context. Which? might consider that. There is a significant difference between “cash being completely gone” and part of the access infrastructure needing intervention.

There are moves to improve access so I do not foresee armageddon just round the corner. But we do need to investigate all sensible ways to continue to make cash available to as many more as possible.

I do not think it would be good to do away with cash – my card was used and money taken. They can only have got my number and the ”special” number on the back from a company who had taken my money by plastic because it was preferred. To order by telephone is very dangerous because one if giving an unknown someone all the personal details required to order by phone and pay by plastic.
I now will not pay by card, I will only use PayPal and if that is not available I go somewhere where it is. Many of us oldies will be frightened and upset by this, not planned and carefully explained over some time but suddenly happening to us. When you are old, disabled and alone it is very frightening and these sort of changes cause alarm – we need our coin of the realm, please do not take that away as well.

Jane Reynolds says:
26 February 2020

Keeping cash in circulation is vital. Lots of older people do not use cards and even for the more active sector of the population, there are so many things we need cash for: Charity collection cans, small purchases particularly from market stalls, paying tradesmen at the door…
Self-employed people running modest businesses such as window cleaning, gardening etc….could not afford to run a card machine.
Technology can go wrong!

Barrie Cooke says:
26 February 2020

I am particularly concerned for the many elderly people who budget and organize their daily commitments, shopping, bills etc in terms of cash.

As folk shop more online, less cash will be needed.

Hence fewer ATMs will be needed.

What I think we need are some kind of banking regulations to protect access to cash and some kind of national infrastructure to provide all areas with access to cash.

Jimbo says:
26 February 2020

We are no where near ready to get rid of cash. It sounds like a music hall joke. The banks and financial spivs will be keen because they will put up their charges once there is no cash option.

I know we have all voted to make “Britain a great place to do business”, but does it therefore have to be a bad place to be a customer? This would certainly be a further move in that direction.

How would I give my grandchildren some pocket money? How do I tip someone who has given good service? What happens when my smart phone has a flat battery ( a regular occurrence)? And so on.

Paulette says:
26 February 2020

People with limited means who need to have a firm control of their spending, older people who prefer to use cash, people who are paid in cash for their labour, all need to have access to, and also be able to transact with cash. However, often forgotten is the fact that young children learn about money and its value receiving cash as pocket money or as a gift. They learn about the price of items, how to compare value, and how to save. It is an invaluable way of learning about how to manage money and to budget.

As greeting cards shop we already refuse card payments under £5. On an average sale of £2 card, after buying card, paying vat, sometimes delivery, rent for card machine and then bank charges (and Nat West where obscene – since moved banks) how much is left to pay rent? As a family business we will not survive in a cash less society, where as banks will make more money from us their customers and have total control of YOUR money. This must not happen.

Sandra Hawkins says:
16 June 2020

I use cash all the time where possible. Easier to keep track of my spending to avoid going into debt. As mentioned above, without cash small businesses would not survive and we would all end up by paying more for a cashless society. I attend my local community centre for activities – everyone pays their fees each week in cash. Other needs for cash include birthday cards, papers, money to family for birthdays, pocket money for grandchildren, prepayment for gas/electricity only accept cash, car wash, window cleaner, small purchases for snacks when out. In fact, the list is pretty long if you really think hard about it. Also there have been frequent problems over the last few years where bank systems/technology have “crashed” causing no end of problems to customers. Banks should not have the right to dictate to us how we pay for our purchases!

Robert C. Forbath says:
27 February 2020

Cash is important since it helpsmt0om keep one ‘earthed’, and aware of what is being spent and how much is left. Society does not HAVE to be built on irresponsible spending and unnecessary debt!

Michael Firkins says:
4 March 2020

Barter and cash was the beginning and will out live all electronic ways

R.Smith says:
23 April 2020

I know these are uncertain times and supermarkets are preferring people to pay by card, but are they allowed in law to refuse to take cash if that is the only way a person can pay?