While there has been a decline in its use, cash remains immensely popular and important for many people. We’re worried there’s a growing tendency to overlook the important role that cash still plays.
For some, cash is a day-to-day necessity they couldn’t live without. For most of us it’s a vital backup when digital payment systems fail.
Cash is a reliable and trusted payment method and that’s why we’re calling for the UK’s cash infrastructure to be protected for as long as people need it.
Millions of people across the UK rely on cash for essential purchases. Around 2.2 million, have said that they are almost entirely dependent on cash to live their lives.
Don’t trash cash
From those in rural areas to those on low incomes who use it to budget, from older people who’ve always used it to small business owners who need it for trade – we know that having free access to cash is still a necessity for over 25 million people across the country.
And we are concerned that over reliance on card-based and digital payments could mean everyone is left struggling to pay when these systems go down.
There have been a number of problems relating to the processing of payments in the past 12 months, including the outage of VISA payments last year and recent IT failures for RBS, Barclays, TSB, Halifax, Co-op and Cashplus.
Pay your way
We believe everyone should be able to pay for goods and services with whichever form of payment suits their needs – and cash should be protected for as long as we need it.
2018 Which? research shows that almost three quarters of adults in the UK say they use cash at least two or three times a week, including 60% of 18 to 24 year olds.
We’ve become concerned that without regulatory oversight to help manage the transition, the millions of people still reliant on cash risk being left behind.
That’s why today we launch our new campaign to ensure everyone continues to have access to cash and we are calling on the government to appoint a regulator that will help protect the UK’s cash infrastructure.
We’re calling for:
■ The government give a single regulator the statutory duty to protect your access to cash and to build a sustainable cash infrastructure for the UK.
■ The Payment Systems Regulator to immediately stop cash machines disappearing from communities that rely on them.
■ Banks to ensure customers are adequately supported as we move towards an increasingly digital society.
Cash is king
There are few topics that have attracted so much debate in our community as access to cash. And we’ve been listening.
Jen wrote last year:
We are in a village with no cash point and now no banks at our nearest town. If cashpoints are closed we will all struggle. Bus services to larger towns are also being reduced so it’s going to be really difficult for us to manage our finances.
And Andrea wrote:
It’s not just a question of obtaining cash. I have had the misfortune to have several attempts at fraud on my bank account this year. Now my local branch has closed (and the ATM removed, of course) if my account is frozen again I have to go with photographic ID to another branch.
The nearest is about 3 miles away, and there is a bus service and I do have a car, but it is still very inconvenient to have to drop everything and rush off to this branch.
Our regular community member Wavechange added:
There could be various serious consequences of removal of ATMs. People who had difficulty in accessing money could keep more cash at home, encouraging crime. Those who don’t understand computers/phones and security issues are more likely to be subject to fraud.
Removal of easy access to cash also pushes us towards a cash-free society, though the ban on card surcharges has temporarily delayed this with many small businesses reasonably refusing to take card payments for small transactions.
No one’s in any doubt that cash use is on the decline, but without a central body to protect those who still need to use cash, too many are at risk of being left behind.
That’s why we think paying for goods and services with cash should be an option available to everyone in the UK for as long as it remains necessary.
Do you still use cash on a regular basis in your day to day life or in your work or business? Has your access to cash, such as from cashpoints or banks, been reduced in recent years? We’d like to know your stories.