Up to 10m people in the UK are dependent on cash and Which? has secured the support of retailers and the government to protect them.
Which? has underlined its status as an effective campaigner and consumer champion by securing the support of major retail brands, Aldi, Asda, Co-Op, John Lewis, Lloyds Pharmacy and Waitrose all of whom have pledged not to go to cashless and protect those that rely on cash estimated by Which? to be in the region of 10m adults.
The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the UK’s already fragile cash system. The closures of bank branches and free-to-use ATMs have continued at pace, while worries about the safety of handling notes and coins – since debunked by the Bank of England – have led some businesses to refuse to take cash.
The Which? Cash Friendly pledge is a public-commitment that retailers can take to signal to customers that they welcome cash payments.
The supermarkets supporting the campaign are responsible for almost 4,500 stores in the UK, and have a combined grocery market share of more than 30%. Lloyds Pharmacy has committed to continue to accept cash across its 1,400 stores, and John Lewis has agreed to do the same in all 42 of its UK shops. In addition, Which? has been endorsed by over 80 smaller retailers.
The initiative has been backed by leading retail associations that represent tens of thousands of UK stores across the country. This includes The British Retail Consortium, Association of Convenience Stores, and the British Independent Retailers Association, which are all encouraging their members to sign up. The Federation of Small Businesses is promoting the scheme to members that are keen to help customers pay in cash.
The launch of the Cash Friendly pledge coincided with the Which? Cash Summit; an event bringing together representatives from HM Treasury, the banking sector, and leading industry experts, to explore the challenges and solutions for protecting cash for the millions that still rely on it.
At the Summit, Treasury minister John Glen MP underlined the government’s commitment to legislation and confirmed a consultation on legislative proposals that will be launching in the summer. The consultation will cover which organisations – such as banks, ATM providers and the Post Office – should be in scope of legislation, and who should have regulatory oversight. It is widely expected that this role will fall to the FCA, an outcome Which? has campaigned for.