Urgent action needed to protect access to cash

A new report by Which? has revealed that vulnerable people are at risk of having no way to pay for essential services. The consumer group has said that the coronavirus crisis has accelerated the shift to a cashless society.

Their report finds that cash has remained vital for those needing help to do their groceries or other shopping. Over half (51%) of those surveyed had been paid in cash in return for doing shopping for a vulnerable person.

The survey of over 2000 people also revealed that 1 in 10 people had been refused by shops when they tried to pay in cash. Coronavirus guidance encouraged the use of cards for paying where possible to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

In the 2020 Budget, the UK Government said that they will bring forward legislation to protect access to cash and the infrastructure for those who need to use it.

In rural areas many businesses and individuals rely on cash despite the disappearance of banks and cash machines in some areas.

John Lamont MP commented: “In recent years, banks, post offices and cash machines have been disappearing at an alarming rate across the Borders. This makes it difficult for those who still need cash to do their shopping or to keep their business going.

“I know that many people, including those who are older, are able to digitally manage their finances nowadays. But there are still a number of people who prefer to use cash or do not have the help they need to use cards or online banking.

“This report shows that cash is still a vital tool, especially if you are helping out someone to do their shopping during coronavirus. It is no surprise that if you are doing some shopping for a neighbour handing over cash can be the easiest option.

“Its important that the UK Government continue their work on protecting access to cash and bring forward new legislation to do so as quickly as possible. This will protect vulnerable people and boost our high streets.”

Gareth Shaw, Head of Money at Which?, said: “The coronavirus outbreak has shown that cash remains vital to many consumers, particularly for vulnerable people who rely on it to pay for essential supplies. 

“As a result, it’s vital that the already fragile cash system is not left to collapse completely as the UK’s shift to a cashless society accelerates.

“The government must urgently press ahead with the legislation it has already committed to before it becomes obsolete, as failure to do so risks excluding millions of people from engaging in the economy.”