New rule proposed for maintaining access to cash

No 10 - Report says safeguarding access to cash is poor

Cash machine warning: Government condemned for not maintaining access - new rules proposed

From the Daily Express By CONNOR COOMBE-WHITLOCK - PUBLISHED: 12:06, Fri, Dec 4, 2020 | UPDATED: 12:58, Fri, Dec 4, 2020

CASH access has been scrutinised by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) today as a report on the production and distribution of cash was released. The report laid out a number of recommendations and various public bodies were criticised for their lack of action and organisation.

Cash access has been put into focus in recent years as digital banking emerged and the use of physical usage declined. Coronavirus added additional strain as bank branches and cash machines across the UK, with this expected to hit pensioners and the vulnerable particularly hard.

Unless the government acts quickly, there are clear dangers of hardship for some individuals and groups if we move precipitously towards a cashless society.

Following their analysis, the PAC also laid out a number of recommendations, which included:

  • Having HM Treasury and the Payment Systems Regulator work on ensuring there is adequate access to free cash machines across the UK

  • Having the government set out hoe they propose to incorporate the concerns and requirements of different communities and groups to ensure that solutions actually meet local needs

  • Having the government hand over overall responsibility for the cash system to a single body

  • Having the Bank of England work with other public bodies to understand the rising demand for notes

  • Having the Royal Mint work out how they’ll be ensuring the plans for manufacturing UK coins are sustainable and cost effective

This report caught the attention of Peter McNamara, the CEO and Founder at NoteMachine, who shared some of his own recommendations:

Much has been said about a commitment to protect access to cash but there’s been very little in the way of action.

The fragmented approach highlighted in the PAC report clearly shows the issue of access to cash still isn’t being taken seriously enough given the crisis it finds itself in, with a huge reduction in free-to-use ATMs across the country.

There is a very simple solution to this problem however - ensure banks pay the right level of fees to ATM operators for every withdrawal made by a consumer.

Paid on a tiered basis, funding would be focused on rural areas where there is less provision, for example, and away from well supplied city centres.

This would allow for ATM infrastructure to be fairly distributed across the UK and ATMs to be protected for all communities, irrespective of their population and withdrawal volume levels.”

According to additional analysis from NoteMachine, the importance of maintaining access to cash cannot be understated.

They detailed there is still a mass market for cash in the UK which is not just limited to the elderly and vulnerable.

Prior to the pandemic, around 43 million distinct cards withdrew money from ATMs across the UK every month and at the height of the first wave, around 20 million cards were still being used to withdraw cash despite national restrictions