Government will not make it illegal for stores to refuse cash, prime minister Rishi Sunak stated on Wednesday (30), saying is not “appropriate” for the government to “impose on individuals how they should do business”.
Confirming that government is not planning to bring any law to force shopkeepers to offer customers the option to pay with cash, Sunak insisted ministers are still committed to ensuring people have access to cash themselves.
Asked by GB News whether customers in shops should have a legal right to pay with cash, Sunak said, “I think it is right that people should have access to cash. It is a different thing for the Government to start imposing on individual businesses how they should do their business. I don’t think that’s appropriate.”
“But what we can do is regulate the financial services industry so that people do have access to cash themselves,” Sunak said.
Sunak was asked whether he supported the idea that traditional notes and coins should remain widely accepted means of payment in the UK until at least 2050, amid concerns that vulnerable people who are reliant on using physical money could be left behind.
“Of course we are transitioning and using more electronic money and doing more things online. But cash is important to people, particularly in rural communities like the one I represent,” he said, pointing out the government’s recent effort to improve accessibility of cash.
He highlighted laws he introduced as chancellor, which have now passed, under which the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been given the power to fine or compel banks to offer free cash to people, thus ensuring people are no more than three miles from access to free cash.
Sunak’s statement comes amid rising voices to make it illegal for stores to refuse cash as payment as many stores on high streets are reportedly doing so.