/ Money

We want the freedom to pay. Our way.

While there has been a decline in its use, cash remains immensely popular and important for many people. In a huge win for the 140,000+ supporters who backed our campaign, we welcome the Government’s move to commit to protecting it.

Update 03/05/2019

We welcome the government’s unprecedented commitment to ensuring cash continues to be available to those who need it.

With bank branches closing at a rate of more than 60 a month, and thousands of free-to-use cash machine disappearing from our streets, this is a huge victory for the 140,000+ supporters who backed our campaign.

David Chaplin, head of campaigns at Which?, said:

“Millions of people across the UK who rely on cash in their daily lives are currently at risk of being stripped of their ability to pay for essential goods and services – so the Government’s unprecedented commitment to protecting cash should finally offer them some reassurance.

This new body must act urgently to address rapid changes to the cash landscape, as its success will be judged by how it ensures people can continue to access their preferred payment method in the face of bank branch and cashpoint closures, intermittent broadband access and regular IT glitches affecting digital payment methods”

You can read more about the history of our campaign below.

Campaign launch 12/02/2019

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.

Freedom to pay. Our Way.

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.



Residents in almost one in eight rural communities (12%) – 153 postcode areas in total – that lost their last free machine must travel at least 1km to their nearest ATM that does not charge a fee for withdrawals.

I, like many others, have never lived within 1km of an ATM and somehow have managed to access cash. Just how many ATMs would we need for everyone to be within 1km of one?? How close to an ATM do Which? think everyone should be?

The same press release https://press.which.co.uk/whichpressreleases/cut-off-from-cash-wave-of-cash-machine-cuts-leaves-communities-facing-long-treks-to-make-free-withdrawals/ goes on to tell us:
Overall, 194 ‘protected machines’ closed between January 2018 and July 2019, according to figures from Link.

What it omits to explain is that:

147 – Locations where consumers have free access to cash over the counter from the Post Office (92), or where the site was not accessible to the general public (37), e.g. inside a corporate building, or where there is a security issue (18).
47 – Further action taken by LINK to replace.

The LINK monthly Footprint Report gives the figures.

Which? also continues to tell us:
Overall, the UK network lost 5,334 free-to-use machines between Jan 18 – May 19, which is 10 percent of its network.

Currently, 600 free-to-use machines are closing every month.

These figures mean nothing unless you know from where they were lost and, in particular, whether they were in clusters or close to other free ATMs.

It would be useful if balanced information was provided.

Shirley says:
15 October 2019

I live in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, my nearest village Reeth ,is 4 miles away where there are no large shops or cash machines. I bank with Barclays, who closed our local branch in Reeth in the late 90’s, and because of the difficulty this would present for there customers Barclays came to an agreement with the local post office offering it’s customers the facility to withdraw cash there. This was a lifeline for many people in a community with poor transport links and an ageing community. So when I received a letter from Barclays telling me that from January 2020 I would no longer be able to access my money, without either a 24 mile or a 34 mile round trip to either of my nearest towns I was furious to say the least.
I hope that Barclays will have the decency to review this decision which will present problems for all it’s customers living in the area, plus this could have a knock on effect on our post office/shop which is the hub of the community. After all, if people are travelling to access their money, they will probably shop there too.
This could have an effect on the viability of the post office.
Barclays please put an end to this downward spiral before another local community which was recently affected by terrible flooding is again decimated.

Shirley, looking at the web (might be wrong 🙂 ) there do seem to be small businesses in Reeth – shops, cafes, pubs for example that will handle cash. It has been proposed that schemes are introduced to allow these businesses to recycle the cash – not just take it in but dispense it also. Would this solve your problem if implemented?

Barclays may revise their decision; they are under some pressure. If there is another bank nearby you could open an account there and still use the post office’s facilities.

mrs m galvin says:
26 February 2020

Cash is so important for many reasons, 1 paying someone for help in the house, 2 giving your grandchildren pocket money 3 paying the window cleaner. 4 paying some one to cut your grass.5 tipping when appropriate.6 on a limited income actually seeing how much pension you have left to spend in your purse at the end of a week. Finely a lot of old people are not good at working machines on walls firstly there sight may not be that good, then who knows who is watching them withdraw cash if they can manage to do it, they will be easy targets for desperate people out there!

Helen says:
8 April 2021

I went into an Eco shop that has recently opened in our town, but they point blank refused to accept cash. They said they wiped down the card readers and kept cleaning down in the shop and the door handles etc., which is ok whilst few people are around during lockdown, but if they get busy once lockdown stops, they may have a problem. Most self employed business people are happy to accept cash and some even ask for it, so I am puzzled as to why this one refused cash. They will not have my business again…