The Treasury has instructed the clearing banks to come up with a set of proposals to ensure that cash remains available nationwide.
Despite a 60 percent reduction in cash payments since the pandemic took hold in the UK, the government is committed to safeguarding its future underlining its importance to older and vulnerable members of the population.
The reduction in cash payments, which has exacerbated an existing long-term decline, has seen a programme of bank closures and a removal of free to use ATMs. In the last five years 4,000 branches have closed leaving many communities without ready access to money. The government has launched a consultation programme with banks that could lead to services moving to the Post Office. Trials in a number of locations are underway to explore ways in which banking services can be brought to the population away from branches, the results of which are due summer 2021 and which will inform legislation to safeguard access to cash.
One of the ideas being discussed is the feasibility of transferring the ATM network, which costs £600 million a year, to a utility. Underlining the government’s commitment to cash, a Treasury spokesperson told The Times newspaper: “We’re working closely with authorities across the cash system to ensure a joined-up approach, which has already resulted in greater protections for ATMs and support for the cash system.”