/ Money

Win! Government will protect access to cash

I wrote to the Chancellor as part of our week of action to save bank branches and ATMs across the country. Today, the government has acted. Cash will be protected.

11/03/2020: Win! Cash will be protected

It’s been confirmed in today’s Budget that the government will bring forward legislation to protect access to cash and ensure that the UK’s cash infrastructure in sustainable in the long-term.

Read the full announcement

Thank you to the thousands of people across the UK who joined us in calling for the Treasury to act, which culminated in my visit to Downing Street to deliver a brief case full of your stories.

Which? CEO Anabel Hoult drops off the comments submitted to Which? Conversation to No 10 Downing Street

We know that the cash system faces irreversible damage within the next two years, so the government must swiftly press ahead with these plans to legislate, which must include putting a single regulator in charge of protecting cash.

It’s vital that today’s commitment is quickly turned into action.

We look forward to working with the government, regulators and industry to ensure that cash is protected for as long as it is needed.

26/02/2020: My letter to Rishi Sunak

Dear Chancellor,

The UK’s ATM network is on the verge of collapse.

In the past two years, 9,000 free cash machines and 1,200 bank branches have vanished.

We’re even being charged a fee to access our own money at 25% of the cash machines that remain.

Understandably, millions of people are unhappy about this. They rely on cash. For many of them, cash is the only option.

If things carry on as they are, cash as we know it will cease to exist in just two years.

Yes, digital payments are good, but right now the UK isn’t ready to go cashless. The government promised to maintain our access to cash.

As the new Chancellor, this budget is your opportunity to turn that promise into action.

Which? is the UK’s largest consumer organisation. We stand ready with our 1.3 million members and supporters to work with you, to protect cash for the millions of people who need it.

If you don’t act now, free access to our own cash will soon be gone forever.

Yours faithfully,
Anabel Hoult, CEO, Which?.


Do you feel that the Government should make sure cash is protected in the next budget?

Yes (100%, 2,739 Votes)

No (0%, 12 Votes)

Not sure (0%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,752

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Why do you want the government to protect cash?  Tell us why in the comments below, and we’ll share them alongside Anabel’s letter this Friday. 


Retention of free – I repeat free – access to our own money in the form of cash notes and coins is essential. Older and poorer people need to be able to have and hold their own money to budget wisely. Many apparently simple day to day activities including small purchases, club membership and activities, security against breakdown of card machines, charity collections and spontaneous gifts or tips, and don’t forget the simple need of coins in the ladies loo. We have a right of choice in how we use OUR OWN money.

I live in rural Wales and cash to me is essential.

Eric Franklin says:
12 March 2020

I know by experience that what John says is true. But to illustrate another aspect of the point he makes: It would be totally uneconomic to have to go in person to a bank miles away in the nearest town (if there is one) to get cash to pay one’s neighbour in the village where both live. Having an adequate store of cash under the bed makes life simpler. Simple hand-to-hand (ie cash) transfers are essential and the most economic in many situations, just as the ability to transfer money many miles to a supplier not by going in person but by sending a few electron-waves along a cable is more economic and convenient in other situations. We need both, and the banks must not be allowed to abolish cash simply to increase their own (often only notional) profits at ordinary people’s expense. Eric Franklin

I am hoping the argument is settled now but the detail will be crucial and I think it would be useful to concentrate on that.

Bridgette Jeffery Browne says:
26 February 2020

Definitely agree, as a member of the slightly older generation and living in a small market town. Money MUST remain in cash form for ages yet!

26 February 2020

Unfortunately, some credit and debit cards are not contactless, especially those designed to help anyone with a poor credit record. To use a PIN for purchases for small amounts would inevitably result in longer queues and unnecessary delays.

I use a contactless credit card but don’t see any problem with others using their PIN, which everyone has to do for purchases over £30. You have given an example of why some people have no option to use contactless cards.

If our time is really so valuable we cannot tolerate people entering their PIN then perhaps there is a problem.

Kevin Clark says:
26 February 2020

It is vital for all including groups such as market traders and the elderly who cannot use or do not have access to new technology. Without cash, how can people pay in the many areas such as North Yorkshire without WiFi and poor or non-existent mobile service?

Bilgepump says:
26 February 2020

There are numerous facilities that you cannot access without cash. Further, you need a backup when online card services are compromised or erased via damage to the national infrastructure..

I am disabled and completely dependent on accessing cash easily. Many of my transactions are by cash. People on low incomes are the ones most hardest hit, again. We must not be forced into a cashless society, it takes even more control and self determination away from people who are already pretty powerless.

Geoff Kellett says:
26 February 2020

If cash disappears we will be at the mercy of the banks who will soon start charging us for access to our money. We cannot let it happen.

Sandra says:
26 February 2020

We are hearing tails locally of the elderly being mugged because crooks are watching them input their pin number at tills then mugging them for their cards. They struggle with mobility and eyesight so are less able to protect their pins. Don’t take cash away from them.

David Davies says:
26 February 2020

Free access to our own Cash should remain until financial institutions no longer support their paperless transactions with a reserve of Gold bullion…..
What’s good for them should be good for us!

Gillian says:
26 February 2020

In a free society, everyone must have ready access to their own money in cash. Without it, we are at the mercy of both political control over cashless payment systems and the breakdown of those systems.

Olivia Richardson says:
26 February 2020

Cash is necessary for the most vulnerable who maybe old or poor and have no access to the cashless society. This is decreasing especially in rural areas. Cash is the back stop to hacking and digital failures. We still need it!

Helen Franklin says:
26 February 2020

We need free access to our own money, this is a fundamental of a free and democratic society.
Cash is cash so if there is a glitch in the banking system we need a backup to avoid total disaster for millions

Cathie Booth says:
26 February 2020

We must keep cash for a variety of reasons! Security of information is the biggest for me and that IT systems are not “up to it”. What happens if a computer goes down? (as they often do) we wouldn’t be able to purchase anything. As someone said in a previous comment how would we manage for basics like public toilets, tips etc? and how much would it actually cost to change everything to cashless? It wouldn’t be fair or equitable to ask everyone to be cashless, what about the older generation who might not have access to a computer or even understand a cashless system. Where is our choice in this matter???

Patrick Dillon says:
26 February 2020

Cash is essential when attending local community events ie carnivals flower show’s and raising funds for small local support groups
It must not stopped .
Cash is King


The big banks, most easily defined as those who are direct members of the CHAPS or Faster Payments systems have a special responsibility that comes with market share. Instead of leaving the FCA to make their petty and pointless interventions about charges summaries and the like they should be given the power and responsibilty to develop a formula that ensures that either mobile branches or multi function cash machines are provided, for example, when more than xxx numner of people are than xxx miles from a yraditional branch

I attend many interest groups which charge only £2 – £3 for each session. If we do not have cash. Then how would we pay the organisers, and how would they collect it.

Cash is essential to so many people. If we are a truly inclusive society we need to take their needs into account

D Searle says:
26 February 2020

Technology, in this case particularly cards and electronic fund transfers, can be very convenient. But as we have seen recently with Travelex it can fail disastrously. We must never be put in a position where we cannot continue the essential transactions of life such as food just because technology has failed. Cash is absolutely essential and must remain a key part of society for the foreseeable future.

There’s no way cash should be taken away from us. Many people rely on cash for their daily living – and not just drug dealers, prostitutes and tax shirkers, which is basically the only reason why we’re moving this direction.

Technology is NOT infallible and to rely on it exclusively is just sheer madness