In their report on the production and distribution of cash, the National Audit Office (NAO) have found that access to cash might be in decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report said that many businesses opted to go cashless for hygiene reasons during the pandemic and that ‘this may have a lasting impact on cash access and usage’.
The report cited the Access to Cash review which found that those on lower incomes and of older age were more at risk from financial exclusion because of reductions in cash usage.
The report found that the reduction in cash use is putting pressure on cash infrastructure too. This means that it is becoming less commercially viable for operators to handle cash.
The number of banks and building society branches reduced by 39% between 2010 and 2019. ATMs have also closed as a result of bank closures, but the number of Post Offices has remained stable since 2010 across the UK.
The UK Government said in March that they will introduce new laws to protect access to cash for those who need it.
A Borders MP has said he is concerned about the impact of decreasing access to cash on vulnerable groups who rely on it.
John Lamont MP said: “I have long campaigned on the problems of decreasing cash use. For many people, the idea of using cash is becoming more alien when more and more places offer card payments.
“However, groups such as those who are older or those on lower incomes are more likely to rely on cash for budgeting and controlling their money.
“It is really important that the UK Government legislate to ensure that vulnerable groups can still get easy access to cash if that is their preferred method of money management.
“The UK Government must bring forward this new legislation as soon as possible.”