/ 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.

 

Comments
Gillian Smith says:
22 February 2019

My bank branch closed and I had to go 10 miles to the nearest branch. This has now also closed and I need to go approx. 20 miles. As a non-driver, this is 11/2 hours travel each way. Although at present we still have cash points I absolutely dread their loss enforcing this travel on me as I am not sufficiently fit to do this regularly – nor am I getting any younger. We older people, who are accustomed to using cash, need our cash points!

If you have an ATM near you and it is the only one, it comes under a protection scheme operated by LINK. The post office is another option if one is in your area; they can do banking tasks for most customers.

A cashless society will have a very negative impact on humanity, our children will suffer. Small businesses will no longer exist if cash is taken away. Not everyone uses cards.

Helen W says:
22 February 2019

My personal belief is that in 10 years time, there will be no bank branches in town centres, only the major cities. Local businesses will struggle to pay in and obtain cash, making it more even more difficult to pay in cash. We need to step in now and halt this decline now.

Nimisha says:
22 February 2019

if life for those with special need was so easy then they want need any such help.This group is very special and should be understood by people in Govt that always look issues from there point .
Make life easy not difficult

Phil M says:
22 February 2019

Not everyone, has the ability or want, to constantly use a card, again, there’s a need for a people’s bank, TSB got sold off and ripped off, a people’s bank, run solely for people

Mr Peter Griffiths says:
22 February 2019

I would nt have it any other way , the only people who I accept for Direct debit is the Council ( if theres problems I m in their faces immediately ) . There s too much risk in paying for things by Cards also much quicker at the Checkout to use cash

Peter roberts says:
22 February 2019

I require the privacy and right to spend my hard earned cash how I choose without sharing this information with data gathering companies and the establishment.

Hi my name is Sue I rely on cash for every day things I’m use a power chair as I have disability’s like many other people I like cash even though it’s appearance and feel has changed so much As with cards you have to remember PIN numbers which I can’t do as I have memorie problems it’s very embarrassing when you get to the checkout I can’t remember it so I go home empty-handed no shopping feeling really ridiculous

hi my name is Gordon from lancs. I guess big brother has us all wrapped up by now,well apart from the few bob left in my back pocket or yours I wonder where we can spend a penny or two without him looking over our shoulder? Tell me has any other country in the world tried a cashless society and still managed a smile? answers on a postcard please……………oooh now whats one of them?

My Mum is 95 year’s old and has severe osteoporosis. She has always been able to get a cash back from her local Sainsbury’s but a few months back they stopped doing this saying it was a head office decision because they needed to get more people through the tills. We made a polite fuss and the wonderful staff have since ensured she has her cash back when needed.

Nadine says:
23 February 2019

Digital payments are more easily hacked into. It isn’t secure enough. Then getting help to get your money back becomes a long complicated process. Autistic , Aspergers and other challenged people find it all very overwhelming to deal with. Older generations struggle with technology too. Our rights to choose have been taken from us slowly starting with having wages paid into the bank instead of in our wage packet. Give back our control and right to feel that our money is ours and feel safe.

I notice that Barclays Blue allows members to access cashback from several firms, such as Boots.
At present I can access cashback from supermarkets.
Can we ask for cashback in any store?

Margaret, I’m sure you can *ask* in any store – but, in some, the answer will be no!

I didn’t manage to easily find a master list of UK cash back stores, but I did find this article:

telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/02/high-street-cash-machines-replaced-supermarket-cashback-service/

and also this useful site:

moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/debit-cards

M. Williams says:
23 February 2019

I live in a retirement village and must have cash to pay for a meal in the restaurant so……..

Steve Murray says:
4 March 2019

Get the restaurant to accepts cards. Easy 🙂

Many people don’t use or don’t want to use cards, and some of the reasons are given in this discussion. Difficult 🙁

Obviously the use of cash is declining but perhaps we should continue to allow its use for the time being.

Arlene McFarlane says:
23 February 2019

Cashless society ~ government will be able to control your money why would anyone with cognition think this is a good idea. Everyone with sense should oppose this.

It will be essential for the Bank of England to give people and traders a few weeks notice before cash is withdrawn. I wonder if there is any legislative requirement for this or whether it can be done without much notice.

I don’t recall visiting any businesses where it says “cash not accepted”. Some transport seems one of the few to bar cash. But that is just my experience. Perhaps a list of cashless sellers can be produced?

WHICH COUNTRY IS HEADED FOR FIRST PLACE IN THE RACE FOR FIRST CASHLESS COUNTRY IN THE WORLD?
In the cashless world Nayax operates, we provide solutions that are contributing to the world becoming increasingly cashless and we foresee that cash will soon be phased out. We wonder, which country will be the first cashless country in the world? Let’s look at the countries which are already largely cashless, and how they’ve integrated cashless behavior into their daily lives.

SWEDEN GOES CASHLESS
Countries like Denmark and Norway top the adoption of cashless payments, but the clear Scandinavian leader in becoming the first cashless country is Sweden. Swedes have taken to cashless payment wholeheartedly. If you visit Sweden, be sure to take your credit card or mobile phone with you. Only 15% of payments involve cash transactions, and it’s rare that a person will be limited to paying with cash. A popular mobile payment app, Swish, used by half of the country’s 10 million population, enables payment transfers to people and businesses.

Sometimes it’s even difficult to use cash in Sweden. Drivers of Swedish buses no longer accept coins or banknotes. The ubiquitous use of debit and credit cards by Swedes has led many stores to no longer accept cash. Their motivation? Speedier service and creating a safer environment. Storeowners believe the removal of cash lowers the risk of robberies. It also saves them valuable time dealing with cash, which many banks have stopped accepting. Banks have also stopped dispensing cash and removed their ATMs.

I don’t think many here will like the last sentence 🙁 . But note “15% of payments involve cash transactions” which is still a substantial number and presumably involves many of the payments mentioned in this Convo – to people who don’t, and never will have, card machines. So I don’t think the above is a logical argument that Sweden will become cashless. I’d predict that we’ll always need cash, or an equivalent token payment, even though its proportion will quite reasonably decline as plastic payments become more and more convenient.

I was very uncomfortable paying a 30p parking charge by credit card because I was out of 10ps. It just seemed rather silly for such a transaction to go through the credit card system for such a small amount, but I suppose automated processing is extremely efficient and anyway, I don’t have to pay it for at least a month. But therein lies the problem. Paying with cash gives me a sense of value, parting with visible currency that empties by wallet or pocket. Paying with a card just puts off the evil day and – oh what the hell, let’s buy it. Should we encourage people to get into debt? Is it a necessary state for an economy to function? Should we live now and pay later (if we can – if we can’t then someone else will pay, won’t they).

https://conversation.which.co.uk/money/protect-the-way-we-pay-cash/#comment-1559631
Your comment is awaiting moderation – we’ll get to it as soon as we can
@abbysempleskipper – Abby, why is this?There is nothing in it that is remotely offensive, could be misconstrued as such, and no links.

I'm really sorry Malcolm – I have no idea why so many of your comments got put into moderation over the week. I have approved them all and going to investigate.

Gerry says:
3 May 2019

‘Three’ phone shops refuse cash.

Many Southeastern unstaffed stations have card-only ticket vending machines, with hefty penalty fares if you board a train without a ticket. Why should people without cards be banned from travelling by rail?

My local council charges for disposal of tyres, rubble etc, but refuses cash. And people wonder why fly-tipping is such a problem !

I am not very keen on sending or receiving cheques and I was relieved to get through Christmas without writing or receiving a single Cheque. I’m going to have to dig out my cheque book to buy a copy of a book written by a former colleague. No other means of payment is advertised on the flyer.

Cheques are still vital to many small societies. I’m a member of one that banks with HSBC and I used to take cheques to an HSBC branch, but that closed a couple of years ago. I tried taking them to the Post Office but they would only accept ones accompanied by a paying-in slip that is printed with the payee account details. Why can’t I just write these on a blank paying-in slip?

It does concern me that the banks can just withdraw facilities at will without any coordination or regulation until the options available to customers are almost eliminated. Customers seem to have little voice in the functioning of the banking system despite the efforts of Which? and other money commentators. They have become far too powerful and can have a severely disruptive effect on people’s lives. The primary strategic move was to withdraw professional bank managers with whom one could have a proper relationship and substituted absentee control of groups of branches via inexperienced individuals who were incapable of – or prevented from – exercising any discretion. Once that had been achieved it was easy to close branches, remove ATM’s, restrict the use of cheques, and introduce other impediments to use of a full range of banking services.

Your bank will send you a book of paying in slips on request.

I use cheques from time to time without any problem but for a vendor a debit card or credit card payment is a secure method of payment (or cash) whereas a cheque has never been secure except when it was accompanied by a guarantee card – a thing of the past.

I never in all my banking time have ever found the need to talk with the manager on items requiring their discretion, but I can see why some would, particularly businesses where a personal knowledge of the customer would be useful. I suppose our extensive use of online banking has meant the demise of such a person and this has to be a loss. Having said that, the main bank I use has a manager and I’ve sat with them on a number of occasions to sort out personal matters; they were very helpful.

Well said, John. In most cases I have no wish to interfere with business unless it is behaving illegally or against the interest of consumers, but in the case of banks there seems to have been little or no planning. I strongly believe in the need to plan services primarily for the benefit of the citizens of this country, in a way that is both fair and reasonable for all the companies involved.

I cannot remember having much to do with bank managers but it is essential that customers are provided with the service they need.

I recognise that many bank branches have closed as a result of diminishing use, but surely the banks could cooperate to run a combined bank branch for the benefit of the the customers of a range of banks. We had a very popular bank branch at work for many years.

Malcolm – It’s not my bank but one used by a small society, and the bank does not know me. I have asked our treasurer for a paying-in book. I don’t understand why the Post Office will not let me pay in without a paying-in slip that is printed with the relevant details, when I know the payee, account number and sort code. If I go into my own bank I can use a blank paying-in slip.

Here is a list of banking services offered by the post office: https://www.postoffice.co.uk/branch-banking-services
Another Convo discusses how putting in an incorrect number can be a problem. It may also be to ensure the counter clerk does not misread poor handwriting, something many suffer from in a keyboard age. We might celebrate the fact that using a pre-printed slip avoids mistakes?

but surely the banks could cooperate to run a combined bank branch for the benefit of the the customers of a range of banks“. This is, I believe, exactly what the banks did by making an arrangement with the 11500 post offices to offer a range of banking facilities for both personal and business accounts. One benefit is that post offices generally have longer business hours than banks ever offered.

Only 2600 of the Post Offices have an ATM that is available when they are closed, and I don’t know of any in areas that most need an ATM.

It’s not that difficult to arrange to withdraw cash when the post offices are open. Better hours than banks and before ATM ‘s we managed.
Many people have never lived anywhere near a bank branch or ATM. I’d like to see them helped with as easy a means as possible of accessing cash, not only the others. Some innovative thinking, as discussed earlier, could achieve that.

We have lost about half our Post Offices since the early 80s. You are welcome to campaign for alternatives to ATMs and I will carry on supporting the efforts of Which? to retain them.

There are other Convos focusing on ATMs so perhaps we should get on discussing the topic on the card here.

This Convo is about cash and includes the means to access it, as the intro says. I am looking for alternative ways to access cash in addition to ATMS, as I have explained.

It would be helpful if Which? were more open about just where ATMs are being lost.

Perhaps the off topic diversion into boilers should be moved instead?

The point made at the outset of this thread was simple:

(Wave) tried taking (cheques) to the Post Office but they would only accept ones accompanied by a paying-in slip that is printed with the payee account details. Why can’t I just write these on a blank paying-in slip?

This goes to the core of what this topic is about: the loss of facilities with regard to depositing and withdrawing cash.

Interestingly, the banks themselves can be as awkward. I was also a depositor of numerous cheques for a charity but the difference was that I had a paying-in book with the details, name, account no and sort code, pre-printed. The first visit I made with a handful of cheques the bank attempted to refuse them, saying they couldn’t accept deposits for another bank (he paying-in book was for Lloyds, the branch I was using was HSBC). They changed their minds when they realised which type of account I held with them.

So it was clearly possible, simply not convenient. I would suspect Post Offices are possibly behaving the same way.

Thanks. I have contacted the Post Office to ask why I cannot use a blank paying-in slip.

The Post Office did provide an envelope to deposit cheques with printed paying-in slips and this has boxes for user to write in the sort code and account number!

Sue Jones says:
27 February 2019

Cash will always be needed, moving us to a cashless society will leave us completely at the mercy of the banking establishment and the government. I have every right to choose to spend my hard earned income as I wish.

Anunya Tuppawong says:
28 February 2019

Thanks. I’m will following

Sohani says:
28 February 2019

It has been the Banking Cabal’s idea to take even more liberties with our money fro years, this is just the beginning. See what happened in Cyprus and Greece!

Beryl chisholm says:
28 February 2019

As a volunteer with CAP Christians against poverty we advocate using cash to keep control of you money