/ 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.

Sandra Boyce says:
26 February 2020

I feel that elderly people would not be able to cope with bank cards and PIN numbers. A lot of them have only ever used cash. I know my late uncle who was 96 when he died and had dementia, had never used a card in his life. He had me to help him with matters.What about all the old vulnerable people who have no one to help them.

Cash is the only simple way for the majority of Senior Citizens & also low income families to buy groceries & pay bills. I am 67 & would reckon it would take another 20 years before my generation are gone and the cashless society could flourish 100% with our computer savvy children & grand children.

Nick Craig-Tyler says:
26 February 2020

I am particularly concerned for the elderly and those living in rural areas. The elderly still rely on cash and there are fewer and fewer ATMs in the rural areas as it is.

P Gresham says:
26 February 2020

I don’t think our systems and processes are secure enough to go cashless. Too many people are victims of scams via technology and going cashless is not the answer.
Leave our cash alone it all we can truly rely on .

26 February 2020

Cash allows a tangible control on spending, it is so easy to overspend using debit and credit cards.
Small local clubs often collect attendance fees in cash and these are paid into a community building or similar account, cash is easier to manage in these circumstances.

Liz Robb says:
26 February 2020

I agree completely with the comments about the older age group not being familiar with cards etc etc, but I am much more concerned about the security issues. We hear every day about the problems with bank, companies and cards from theft of details. We need to keep the cash for a hundred different reasons, many of them minor, but nevertheless they are important when we do need cash. Definitely not a good idea.

Ann Atkin says:
26 February 2020

I sell the things I make in our gift shop for which people usually pay by cash… So then I use cash when buying myself. I would definitely be very upset if there were no cash

Jane Mary Edwards says:
26 February 2020

Cash is vital. Operating the alternative way will cause more debt especially for he vulnerable in society and those not IT savvy (older folk).

John Hutchinson says:
26 February 2020

I am a member of a number of organisations where I contribute small amounts of cash, often for charitable purposes e.g. raffles. They are too small to use a cash machine.
Cash is the easiest way to monitor your spending. You draw the same amount each week, and if it goes too soon, your overspending. Trying to track tapping a card on a machine doesn’t work.

Cash is still very important as many shops and cafes either only take cash or have a minimum threshold eg . £10. It is great in theory, but in practice cash is still necessary in many transactions!

David Bright says:
26 February 2020

I am in my 90th year and although I am ‘computer literate’ visit my bank every week to ‘top-up’. I much prefer to pay small bills by cash and am very wary of using ‘tap and go’ cards in shops as receipts are not always given and at the end of the week you don’t know accurately how much you have spent. We are very lucky in my town as we still have branches of all the major banks plus several building societies with cash machines. Many local towns with populations of 20,000+ have only one bank left in operation.

Keep cash!

We definitely need to have access to cash some small business don’t allow us to use our cards under five pounds the elderly rely on cash and so do I even my grandchildren.

Angela Berry says:
26 February 2020

I am classed as an elderly person and I need cash to pay people that do things for me. I have always used cash and my children all do for all the reasons already mentioned – please don’t stop us having cash in our pockets – it’s our money we like to feel/touch it – and see the value of it

Joan Matthews says:
26 February 2020

A cashless society would add to the disadvantages already experienced by people living on low incomes who rely on cash to budget effectively and by people who cannot or do not wish to manage their financial affairs via on-line devices.
One only has to look at the chaos currently caused by the attempt to administer Universal Credit efficiently and humanely to claimants who often have poor IT skills to have a glimpse of the dislocation that a cashless society would cause were it introduced prematurely.
What about first dealing with the dislocation of leaving the EU and finding humane solutions for our ageing population and for all those struggling to survive in a society already leaving them behind before we leap into yet another measure which will cause more problems than it solves ?

Recently Nationwide closed four branches in East Dorset leaving at least one community with no easy access to cash. Older people I know do not want to rely on a cashless society due to no access to IT systems, limited ability to remember PIN’s and passwords and the concern of their details being stolen. A serious and widespread hack would result in an inability to make or receive payments and cause distress and hardship. Some organisations have shown no consideration in times of genuine problems due to system failures. The ready and free access to cash is essential even for those people who have embraced a cashless lifestyle. IT systems are not foolproof.

Lesley Shelley says:
26 February 2020

I know many that withdraw a set amount of cash every week and then physically divide it up to ensure they do not stray over their budget and build up debts. At a time when there are serious issues about people slipping into debt, causing endless stress and mental health problems, why remove a strategy that works well for many.

Some places charge for purchases under £5.00 pound using a card. Not everyone can afford a big shop and buy on a daily need. Cash is essential for them. They cannot waste money on card charges in small shops.

I prefer to have some cash in my purse and sometimes leave my card at home in case it is stolen while I am out.

Nadine says:
26 February 2020

Cash should be kept as one of the ways consumers use to pay for goods and services. A lot of people feel safer using this method. They also find it easier to budget when their income is limited. When technology lets us down its good old cash that comes to the rescue.

Ann Peart says:
26 February 2020

The need for cash will remain for a long time. It is not always possible to pay by other means, and other systems can fail.

Richard Webb says:
26 February 2020

I am Treasurer to two volunteer organizations who depend heavily on cash. Bag packing, raffle ticket sales, coffee mornings and other fund raising activities involving small transactions are our life blood. We have looked at “tap and go” but there is a financial cost in setting this up which also depends on wifi being available – which it isn’t always.
I also think that pocket money should be just that. It is something tangible given and received and physically understood.
I think cash is still a very important part of life and should be protected.

The people who are making decisions about the cashless Society, live most of their lives in towns and cities. In the Countryside we all need cash to keep life going for the multitude of small transactions that are done, – the bar, the markets, the small shops, Farmers markets, household budgeting. Surely we have a right to determine how our own money is serviced.
Chancellor, when the Banks were in trouble you helped them. We now need your help to keep cash.

Paul F says:
26 February 2020

Please save free access to cash. It is ESSENTIAL, particularly for the elderly. Also why should we be charged by banks to withdraw our own money !