The number of of payments that do not involve cash transactions has risen from 45% of payments a decade ago to 85% by 2021, according to a report published today (18 August) by HM Treasury (click here to view report) as digital payments increase and access to cash becomes more difficult, especially for older people.
The “Cash Access Policy Statement” published today sets out the Government’s policy on access to cash deposit and withdrawal services for current accounts across the country and is intended to inform the Financial Conduct`s Authority (FCA) approach to the issue as part of the regulator’s statutory responsibility for seeking to ensure reasonable provision of cash access services.
The HM Treasury report highlights recent analysis showing that in the UK at least 95% of the population are within reasonable distance of cash deposit and cash withdrawal services, defined as within a maximum of 1 mile to where they live in urban areas; and within a maximum of 3 miles in rural areas, which the Government consider to be “reasonable provision of free cash access services”, but that the FCA need “to have regard to local deficiencies that have significant impacts”
The factors to be considered by the regulator include:
travel and geographic factors; `
demographic factors in a local area, such as age, and characteristics of vulnerability that may reflect a greater need for cash access; and potential for reliance on assistance with accessing cash that is provided in-person.
HM Treasury is required to publish the statement under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 as amended by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2023. The policy statement is intended to inform the Financial Conduct Authority’s approach to the issue, including in relation to what constitutes reasonable provision of cash access services in the United Kingdom as part of the regulator’s statutory responsibility.
Commenting on today`s report, CSPA General Secretary Sally Tsoukaris said: “
“We must not forget, in our ongoing rush towards the perceived convenience of online transactions, that access to smart phones and web-based financial facilities is not equally available to all members of our society. Older people are more likely to be dependent on cash transactions day-to-day but they are, in many instances, facing increasing obstacles in accessing their money due to the closure of their local banks and increasing number of shops and other small businesses refusing to accept cash payments, coupled with restricted mobility caused by reduced bus and other public transport services. High street banks, as providers of essential services, should be obliged to offer alternative ways for those without access to the internet to manage their personal finances, and the Government bears some responsibility for ensuring that these are in place.”
Access to Cash is one of CSPA`s campaign priorities, and part of the Manifesto for Pensioners that we are preparing with our partner organisations NARPO and NFOP, through Late Life Ambitions and our Parliamentary advisors in Connect.