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Geographic requirements to protect access to cash facilities planned

·2-min read

People and businesses will be given access to cash facilities within a reasonable distance under Government plans.

As part of its access to cash legislation, the Government said it expected the Treasury to be given powers to set geographic access requirements to protect access to cash across the UK.

The Government said geographic requirements would be set on the basis of cash access facilities being available within maximum distances of a minimum percentage of the population under the proposals.

It said it aimed for requirements to be flexible over time, with powers to set and amend geographic cash access requirements.

In 2009, cash accounted for 58% of all payments in the UK, falling to 23% as of 2019.

Powers to amend geographic requirements would allow the Government to ensure they remained proportionate in meeting cash needs and demand over time.

The Government said it also considered that cashback without a purchase had the potential to play an important role in the UK’s cash infrastructure.

Natalie Ceeney, chair of the Access to Cash Review and who is now leading the industry Access to Cash Access Group, said: “Legislation to protect access to cash is vital.

“While millions of people are increasingly comfortable to live without visiting bank branches or ATMs, there are still a lot of people who rely on cash and they tend to be the oldest, the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

“We need to make sure that people can reasonably access cash, but also put in place measures to ensure businesses can accept cash too.

“That’s why it’s vital that the banking industry alongside regulators and Government come up with solutions to help keep cash in the community.”

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Cash has been getting harder to get your hands on. Four thousand banks have closed their doors in the last six years, which is the equivalent of two branches every day, and 16% of people say that a branch they used to use regularly has closed down in the past 12 months.”

She added: “For those attached to branches, the bad news is that the Government isn’t going to demand that they stay open. Instead, the proposals will focus on ensuring you don’t have to travel miles to get your hands on your money.

“It has already legislated to allow cashback without a purchase, post offices provide services on behalf of a number of high street banks, and banks are trialling shared branches.”

The Government’s consultation will run until September 23.

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