Cash vic­tory for Mail

Ham­mond pro­tects 3,500 ru­ral ATMs af­ter our cam­paign Pen­nies WILL stay de­spite banks push­ing ‘cash­less so­ci­ety’

Daily Mail - - News - By Sean Poul­ter Consumer Affairs Edi­tor

THE fu­ture of cash is to be pro­tected amid fears that clos­ing bank branches and dis­ap­pear­ing ATMs are leav­ing mil­lions with­out ac­cess to their money.

Chan­cel­lor Philip Ham­mond will to­day an­nounce he is set­ting up a Trea­sury- led group in re­sponse to warn­ings that Bri­tain is ‘sleep­walk­ing to­wards a cash­less so­ci­ety’.

The group will in­ves­ti­gate mea­sures to en­sure that a na­tional net­work of cash ma­chines, bank branches and other sources of phys­i­cal money is maintained. The Govern­ment’s de­ci­sion is a vic­tory for the Daily Mail, which has high­lighted the threat to ac­cess to cash through the clo­sure of bank branches and ‘hole in the wall’ ma­chines.

Spe­cial pro­tec­tion is be­ing of­fered to 3,500 cash ma­chines in remote or ru­ral lo­ca­tions to en­sure that – if there is not a Post Of­fice nearby – they stay open. At the same time, the Chan­cel­lor will con­firm the Govern­ment in­tends to save 1p and 2p coins from be­ing scrapped amid claims they have be­come ob­so­lete.

Banks are push­ing peo­ple to switch to debit cards and smart­phone apps, such as Ap­ple Pay, rather than real money be­cause it saves them a for­tune in terms of han­dling, se­cu­rity, count­ing and trans­port costs.

They have made it in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to ac­cess cash by clos­ing hun­dreds of branches across the coun­try, rip­ping the heart out of many town cen­tres and shop­ping streets. At the same time, the banks have re­duced the fees they pay to third-party cash ma­chine firms to process trans­ac­tions, which means many have be­come un­eco­nomic.

As a re­sult, al­most 3,000 cash ma­chines dis­ap­peared in the six months to De­cem­ber. And just this week, the consumer group Which? re­vealed that 1,700 cash ma­chines have in­tro­duced with­drawal charges this year al­ready, with the threat of an­other 5,000 fol­low­ing soon.

Mr Ham­mond will tell in­dus­try lead­ers in Lon­don that ‘the fu­ture of cash will be pro­tected’.

He will say: ‘Tech­nol­ogy has trans­formed bank­ing for mil­lions of peo­ple, mak­ing it eas­ier and quicker to carry out fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions and pay for ser­vices.

‘But it’s also clear that many peo­ple still rely on cash and I want the pub­lic to have a choice over how they spend their money. I’m also set­ting up a group which brings to­gether the Trea­sury, Bank of Eng­land and the reg­u­la­tors to safe­guard the fu­ture of cash and en­sure its avail­abil­ity for years to come.’ The Chan­cel­lor will also con­firm that there will be no changes to coins and notes. As a re­sult, all de­nom­i­na­tions – from the penny to the £50 note – will stay in cir­cu­la­tion.

The ex­tent of the prob­lem of los­ing ac­cess to real money was re­vealed in the re­cent Ac­cess to Cash re­view, led by for­mer Fi­nan­cial Om­buds­man Natalie Ceeney.

Miss Ceeney wel­comed the Chan­cel­lor’s de­ci­sion, say­ing: ‘Cash use is fall­ing rapidly, but dig­i­tal pay­ments don’t yet work for ev­ery­one.

‘We need to safe­guard the use of cash for those who need it, and at the same time work hard to en­sure that ev­ery­one can par­tic­i­pate in the dig­i­tal econ­omy.

‘If we sleep­walk into a cash­less so­ci­ety, mil­lions of peo­ple will be left be­hind. I’m de­lighted to see the Govern­ment tak­ing a lead­er­ship role on this crit­i­cal is­sue.’

Re­search sug­gests that 25 mil­lion Bri­tons view ac­cess to notes and coins as a ne­ces­sity. An es­ti­mated 2.2 mil­lion are re­liant on cash, with the th el­derly, ld l vul­ner­a­ble l bl and d those th in i ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties likely to be hard­est hit by a de­cline.

The Trea­sury’s new Joint Au­thor­i­ties Cash Strat­egy Group (JACS) will sup­port the Bank of Eng­land’s work to de­velop a new whole­sale distri­bu­tion sys­tem to en­sure cash reaches ev­ery cor­ner of the coun­try.

Head of cam­paigns at Which?, David Chap­lin, said: ‘Mil­lions of peo­ple who rely on cash in their daily lives are 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. 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.’

Fed­er­a­tion of Small Busi­nesses chair­man Mike Cherry said: ‘Mil­lions of small busi­ness own­ers have cus­tomers that still want to pay in cash. If shop­pers strug­gle to ac­cess notes and coins, that hurts the small firms that make up 99 per cent of all busi­nesses across the UK.

‘We look for­ward to work­ing with the new strat­egy group on the mea­sures needed to pro­tect ac­cess to cash for all those who want and need it.

‘It is often so­ci­ety’s most vul­ner­a­ble that bear the brunt of lost bank branches and cash­points. The Govern­ment is right to stand up for these con­sumers.’

Trea­sury select com­mit­tee chair­man Nicky Mor­gan said the Govern­ment also needed to look at ways to stop shops and other busi­nesses from re­fus­ing cash, as has al­ready hap­pened with cheques.

One in 10 free ATMs could go in months Wed­nes­day’s Mail

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.