Plans to protect future of cash included in Budget

Plans to protect the future of cash are to be included in the Budget.

New laws will aim to ensure that people who rely on cash, including vulnerable groups and local communities across the UK, can access it as and when they need it.

The Treasury is expected to start talks with the industry and regulators – the Bank of England, Financial Conduct Authority and Payment Systems Regulator – around legislation immediately after the Budget.

One area being looked at is whether to give watchdogs new powers which ensure that banks continue to properly support their customers’ cash needs.

The Treasury also wants the banks to create a new system for moving money around the country, so cash remains accessible for those who use it every day.

International examples which the UK could take inspiration from include Sweden, which legislated to require large banks to provide their customers with facilities for withdrawing cash.

The rapid disappearance of many bank branches and free-to-use ATMs has fuelled concerns about people’s ability to continuing accessing coins and notes.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said last week: “People across Britain work hard for their money, with millions relying on coins and notes to make their daily payments.”

The finance industry has set up various schemes to help fill gaps in cash access, but many have argued that legislation is needed to protect the long-term future of cash.

ATM network Link has committed to replacing protected cash dispensers where there is no free machine or Post Office counter within 1km (0.6 miles).

It also recently set up a “request an ATM” service, allowing communities to directly ask for a machine to be installed in their area.

Around two million people in the UK still rely on cash for their day-to-day spending – with three in 10 payments still made using notes and coins.

In 2018, 50 million adults used cash machines, with 87% of them using one at least once a month.