Cash remains an important part of daily life for millions of people across the UK, which is why the Government has committed to legislate for the protection of access to cash.
As of October 2021, LINK reported that there were around 41,000 free-to-use ATMs in the UK. More broadly, the Financial Conduct Authority reports that as of the second quarter of 2021, nearly 96 per cent of the UK population are within 2km of a free-to-use cash access point.
Following a detailed consultation, the Government intends to support the continued use of cash in people’s daily lives and help to enable local businesses to continue accepting cash by ensuring they can access deposit facilities. Having already facilitated the wide-spread adoption of cashback without a purchase through the Financial Services Act 2021, the Government will set out next steps in due course.
Although schemes such as Community Access to Cash have been very successful, I hope that future legislation will ensure the needs of cash users are understood and continue to be met by industry, including large and small retailers.
I welcome the Government's ambition to further legislate for the protection of access to cash in due course. I will speak to ministerial colleagues to ascertain when this legislation will be brought before Parliament.
I am aware of the Post Office’s Save our Cash campaign, and I am continuing to work with colleagues to address the valid concerns that are raised by this campaign.
While cash acceptance is important, it is also vital to make sure that card transactions are as safe as possible during the pandemic. That is why I welcomed the Chancellor’s decision to double the legal limit for single contactless payments from £45 to £100.
I know that COVID-19 and its resulting restrictions impacted heavily upon charities' ability to generate cash donations and organising in-person events, and it is important that a return to these modes of fundraising is facilitated. Access to cash is vital for the smooth functioning of these charity fundraising activities, I have spoken with colleagues at the Treasury who assure me that this is at the forefront of considerations when it comes to ensuring access to cash.
Finally, I welcomed the establishment of the Joint Authorities Cash Strategy (JACS) Group which brings together representatives of our key financial regulators to provide joined-up and comprehensive oversight of the UK's cash infrastructure. The JACS Group will place a particular emphasis on user needs and the changing nature of cash usage.