/ 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.



Bank charges are bad enough and so to charge people for taking out their own cash is very unjust.

irene says:
13 May 2019

I don’t even get interest paid on my savings. I’m also disabled and reliant on my local shop for everyday items like food, toiletries, etc. It would cost me at least £5 a week to take money out. Doesn’t seem like a lot but when you haven’t got anyhing to spare (i don’t get PIP) £5 is actually a lot.
Greedy banks still haven’t paid back our bailouts either.

Rose says:
13 May 2019

My nearest bank is 15 miles away and live in a small town where some business do not have card payment, or they have to charge for transactions under £5 or £10 because they have to pay bank charges. So cash is necessary.I went to one of our cash machines recently and found that I had been charged 99p. It still said ‘Free cash withdrawal’. Should that have been changed as well?

It is now illegal to charge extra for using cards, Rose. Some companies set a minimum of £5 or £10 for card transactions.

Hi Rose – this is interesting about the cash machine still promoting free cash withdrawal. I have passed this on to the campaigns and consumer rights teams.

At what point did you realise you had been charged?

Kay says:
25 May 2019

Surely , if an ATM says “free cash withdrawals” then it should be illegal for any extra money to be removed from your bank account. This action is legalised robbery and it is time something was done about it once and for all

Can we trust any government to listen to and act on the peoples wishes? Can the Chancellor or his successor legally apply the promise that the people’s hard-earned cash will be available to use as they wish? Banks are continually exposed with one scandal after another with sorry excuses of (for example) : ‘an I.T. blip’ There appears to be no end to the lack of respect from both politicians and banks.

Banks! When the last bank closed in Findon Valley ,we were not to worry there will be free ATMs available 24/7. Like everything big organisations want to introduce with as little as possible protest , they start OK and gradually reduce the facility until it’s gone completely , just as they intended in the first place it’s taking place locally now. There is a continuous movement towards a cashless society , certainly not for the general public’s benefit , but what can we do? the banks are a cartel what ever they like to say, there will be no alternative to what they want to impose .

Jan Barker says:
13 May 2019

excellent news well done

Linda says:
13 May 2019

I truly sympathise with all the people affected by lack of cashpoints/local banks and charges for withdrawals. This hasn’t hit home yet for me as we still have local branches of the major banks within a short journey and plenty of (still) free cashpoints.

its all very well when the card/dd system is running well but what happens if and when the computers crash or are hacked do we starve have no access to transport and resort to bargaining with our effects. it would be chaos. I refer to the Barclays /TSB scenes recently.

All the large Banks advertise on TV and they hypocritically tell us they are there to look after their CUSTOMERS!!!

Could they be prosecuted under the trades description legislation?

Debbie says:
14 May 2019

A “little bit of pocket money” helps teach the young people value of money! How they save for items they would like and save for maybe, a special present in the family. I’m lucky to have grandchildren, they have and still are learning how to appreciate it’s value! Cash is tangible and therefore teaches more easily. There is no alternative for something that has worked for generations! It’s the banks that are wanting this not the public that keep the banks employed!

Jan says:
16 May 2019

I live in an area where the 3 local villages no longer have Banks. I do have a garage where I can use the cash machine which is about 4 miles away. If this was no longer free I would have to get to the local town, pay extortionate parking rates and, more worringly, have to draw much larger cash sums from the bank counter. I prefer to pay in cash as it helps me keep track of my money. Don’t forget, this is not only about drawing cash out. It’s about checking the balance in there too. Actually handling money also teaches children the value of money. To put a note in a birthday card to say I have transferred £5 into a child’s bank account is no way to help children understand what money means! Why are the Banks doing this. Do they hope more money will stay in the banking system longer so they can earn more interest on it or what!!!

Paying by cash is the last freedom left for people as individuals .When relinquished we give up the last vestige of our power over our private lives.This may sound dramatic .Other electronic methods all have built in ways of analysis of our spending patterns.Eventually giving control over us to the very companies Who are supposed to be serving us .We are sleep walking into the jaws of slavery.

Since supporting Which’s original on-line action I have found out from my bank another reason why we need easily accessible ATMs.

If you follow the modern pressure to use your debit card using the touch technology it will relatively soon stop working and your transactions refused. This has happened to me on two occasions. My bank explained this is because you have to manually punch in the pass number an ATM or similar to validate it in order keep the touch technology working.

Somewhat worrying as buses and some trendy businesses now only accept touch card payments. One of the occasions I was refused was when buying my weekly ticket on the bus. Fortunately, I had sufficient, traditional, cash on me with which to pay…. obtained, of course, from my local ATM !!

Abolishing cash will hold us all hostage to online systems and become prisoners. It’s an appalling idea. We have few freedoms left when it comes to money. Please sign the which petition and any on change.org that are related.

David says:
21 May 2019

The banks would to know100% of all our transactions cash at least allows us some privacy from Big Brother.

With no warning our Post Office moved into a large shop nearby. The ATM which had been in constant use was removed. When I asked at the PO if there was an ATM I was told all new ones charged £2 pre transaction so there isn’t one.

Tim Mugford says:
25 May 2019

I am 88. I find computers confusing, and often time wasting, and difficult to manage. If the ability to go into the branch of the Bank and get cash, make payments by cheque, etc. was removed, I do not know how I would deak with everyday tasks.

If you have a local post office this offers those same facilities, and usually with more convenient opening hours.

Munday says:
25 May 2019

If we lose the use of physical cash we lose complete control over our finances.

Not all people have a computer, especially the older generation, and don’t want or trust banking on-line. Choice is taken away from us and this is for the benefit of the banks, not the customer. Paper money is necessary to pay for smaller items and besides the feel of handling it gives us more control.

June, as far as I know credit and debit cards and cheques can all be used whether or not one has on-line banking and home computers or smart phones.

From what I’ve seen, most banks no longer favour the cashing of personal cheques and prefer that customers draw cash using debit cards, either via an ATM or during a visit to a physical bank or post office.

Having the option of paying by cash / cheque / card / electronic device etc. actually increases customer choice. I agree that taking away cash would reduce that choice, but I doubt that will happen anytime soon.

What is more worrying is that cash may become more awkward to get, e.g. for those a long way from their nearest ATM or shop doing cashback.

I have suggested a number of times that a great many people have never had convenient access to cash – not anywhere near an ATM, bank, or post office. The focus on ATMs simply ignores making improvements that would benefit these forgotten people, often elderly, disabled, lacking mobility. I’ve suggested using local cash business as “recyclers” – also dispensing the cash they take in.

I see the recent Access to Cash report also recognises this: “3. Innovation should be overtly encouraged in cash access – including local cash recycling approaches, convenience store cashback, and by supporting cash by post as we do for foreign currency. Confidence in consumers’ ongoing need for cash should help to encourage this innovation.

Let’s hope others recognise this approach as progressive.

Until I have seen, especially the rural points remaining, there is not enough reason to celebrate big.