/ 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.


frank says:
11 May 2019

Our only village shop could not afford to install a cashless payment system. Cash is vital to the rural economy. How are our children every going to learn about money without handling it? The very notion of being cashless will only lead to spiralling debt but I suppose this is what big brother banks want. I’m retired. I have to watch my spending and this I do by looking at my mostly empty wallet. In the 10’s when cashpoints were introduced lloyds promised that they would always be free. I’m holding lloyds accountable here. Keep cash free.

Denise Farley says:
11 May 2019

I use cards and cash but a lot of people get their pension paid out in cash as they don’t have cards and the older they get they don;t wish to be bothering with passwords etc.

Claudette says:
11 May 2019

Congratulations on the journey so far!! I don’t live in a village but a town, and can sympathise with those in rural areas. Where I live in my local neighbourhood we had 3 banks, but they’ve all closed, the last one closed 18 months ago. The only cash machine was at Tesco, but 2 shops have now had ATM’s installed. The problem is they all run out of money especially on Fridays and weekends. It’s funny to watch customers running from ATM to the other. This really highlights to me the problem experienced by others. Most shops do accept cards, but some charge you a fee if purchases are below £10.00. Some shops and take away restaurants only accept cash. I’m finding not having access to ATM’s for cash is frustrating, and can make you feel cut off. I don’t want to travel into the town to get cash.

Please continue your good work!!

Thank goodness this subject is being raised. How often have we heard of computer failures and no access to pay by card. Small companies rely on cash and therefore why should they be denied the use of cash. Many banks are closing and at the moment we are lucky to have access to them here but there are places where banks are integrated with Post Offices and even they are being integrated within other shops. We definitely need to keep cash of that there is no doubt, Good luck with your action.

Why are we being forced to pay for a service that has cut jobs in the financial sector which the banks have made a huge saving from! they have also cut many local services so we cannot even go to the bank to get our cash it’s a crime these people need to live on our wages then see how it affects the normal person disgusted

Chris says:
11 May 2019

Our Suffolk village still regularly suffers from power outages. This situation is unlikely to change in the near future. Any cashless village society would struggle to cope without real money during any power outage!

Indeed. After all, it’s not as if there any large power stations in Suffolk, or proposals to build any more. 😉

Thereal reason for this is the plan to bring into being the cashless society. Eventually the system will require the inserting of a minute chip in the hand of everyone. That can be used to scan for any transactions asyour pin number on your bank card

Carole says:
11 May 2019

This is terrible. My husband has Alzheimer’s and I have to get cash from a machine to give to him as he has lost his bank card so many times. This is to keep him as independent as possible while we can. If we lose the ability to withdraw cash and the extra charges they are threatening, it is going to impact the most vulnerable people in society who can only deal in cash or on a tight budget.

Most ATMs are free of charge – 51300 of them, It is also free to withdraw money from your bank or a post office, and cash back at stores. However many people have never had a convenient ATM, bank or post office from which to withdraw cash. I’d like to see a solution investigated that helps the vast majority, not just concentrating on preserving the existing ATMs.

It seems we are being forced into a free market situation without consultation but also the implications of such a policy for many members of the public. As in the Social Media, it seems power and money has the upper hand forcing the public to follow with whatever they come up with! Where is the Govt in all this??

John Stevens says:
11 May 2019

If the government keep to their commitment to maintain free to access ATMs that’s fine, however I do not trust government and they must be closely monitored ensure they keep to their commitment.

Suzanne says:
11 May 2019

Why should we work hard and our money goes into the bank and we have to pay to get our money out, this country is going backwards, back to the early 20th century

Knud Moller says:
11 May 2019

Banks, big retailers, local and central government and many more will no longer let us determine for ourselves what we find the best, simplest and most reliable way to pay our debt to them. It is simply wrong!

Michael Beard says:
12 May 2019

I agree with all those people who have posted positive comments about how we need to have the choice to use cash when people wish to. There are an increasing number of older people (above age 65), who have always used cash, and many of them do not have alternative ways to pay for things. A lot of them do not fully trust direct debits etc. or the banks etc. (for example, I know of one person who is 95 – and I’ll bet there are lots of others). And another thing – why should we be told what to do, especially by the ‘fat cats’ who run big businesses, such as banks etc. It is, quite simply, not acceptable. ! Also, there are a lot of people, especially the younger generation, who think it’s ‘clever’ to just ‘tap’ their card against a machine to pay for things-even for hamburger and fries in McDonalds for example – but they probably forget that ‘at the end of the day’ they will have to ‘pay off’ their card at some point in time.
And, let’s not forget, that this is one instance why millions of people get into debt – great for the credit card companies (who charge interest), but not great for the card-holders ! I could go on – but I’ll leave it there !

[This comment has been edited to remove all capitals in line with the community guidelines. https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/ ]

Forida Khanom says:
12 May 2019

The best advice I received in regards to keeping an eye on how much money I spend was to use cash as often as possible in transactions because you have to count and watch yourself physically give your money away. After a decade of worsening austerity, suppressed wages and rising costs, it’s essential that younger and older generations keep a closer eye on their outgoings. Because tapping a card means absolutely nothing. You’ve got your entire savings to spend from, not a set amount for that day.

Most of my transactions are at small local grocery shops, small restaurants, market stalls and other shops like these who only take cash. My charitable donations are also made with cash. And how are children supposed to learn about handling money if it doesn’t exist because we’re clearly being manipulated into becoming a cashless society? A society where you no longer have to use your brain for anything. A machine, the government and media will do all your thinking for you.

I want control over my money when I spend it, not a summary of where my money went long after the money’s gone. And I shouldn’t be charged for withdrawing money when it costs the bank so little to do so.

Taking away our independence and control is just infantilising us. It’s humiliating and frustrating to feel so powerless when those we pay to represent us are instead choosing to be affected by bribes and representing corporate interests instead. And not just on this matter.

Nita quinn says:
12 May 2019

Mobiles can have a problem.internet may be down.Then what if u want money.
DONT loose cashpoints.
That gives both available.

The banks can well afford to support cash points. They have our money on deposit and pay nothing yet charge up to 30 percent to borrowers. What other businesses have this sort of mark up? We saved their bacon in 2008. Time for a little pay back.

The banks do support cash points. Your own bank does not charge and if you use another bank’s ATM the banks pay a charge through LINK, not the customer. Commercial ATMs may or may not charge depending upon the operator and the site contract.

You can get a bank loan for around 3%. They look after your money, make payments on your behalf, deal with bills, your cheques, BACs payments for no charge and pay interest on deposits and some current accounts.

I refuse to use the ones that charge, it’s your money, why should you have to pay .. shocking!!

When a commercial company installs an ATM to give you the convenience of access to cash 24/7 it costs them – the cost of the machine, its installation and servicing. The contract arrangements with the site owner will decide whether they recover this money through a transaction charge. They are not a charity. If, however, the ATM is operated by a bank you do not normally pay. The cost is met by the banking industry. Far more machines are free to use than make a charge.

There seems a danger that the information being disseminated is only a part of the story – one side – and is misleading some people. Perhaps, in future, the complete situation will be told so people understand better what is happening?

People with really low income appear to access their money in frequent small amounts. If each withdrawal costs even 99p then it will be a huge drain on their finances. Otherwise they will have to develop a different strategy.
I pay most of my casual parking fees by app but there are still times when I just have to pay in coins. I certainly do not believe that a cashless system is appropriate or desirable. Can you envisage checking bank statements where every penny spent is via card payment? Very stressful!.
I have lived in a country where every withdrawal carried a charge and it always worked out costing me more than anticipated as one tends to underestimate the cash amount needed for a given perios.

George says:
12 May 2019

A great result

Ann says:
12 May 2019

I work hard for the money I have. I’m certainly not going to stretch my finances further just to be charged for withdrawing my hard earned money!!!