Post Office calls for legislation to ensure access to cash in new campaign

Chris Wildman, Postmaster for Airton Post Office branch serving a customer cash. Photo: Post Office

Post Office has launched a major new campaign, calling on the government to bring forward legislation to ensure access to cash becomes a legal right, with a requirement on the banks to ensure continued local access for those who need it.

The ‘Save Our Cash’ campaign tells the stories of everyday people and businesses that rely on cash day-to-day, evidencing the urgent need for government to legislate to ensure that banks continue to ensure access to cash remains free at the point of service for both consumers and businesses right across the country.

Around eight million adults have said they would struggle day to day without and a staggering 1.4 million people do not even have a bank account and rely exclusively on cash to survive. In addition, over half of the cash-accepting small businesses (55%) deposits cash at least weekly.

But, access to cash is rapidly declining with widespread bank closures across the country. According to Which? research, 4,188 bank branches have closed since the start of 2015, a rate of approximately 50 per month.

“Continued access to cash is not a luxury for millions of people and businesses across the country: it is an absolute necessity for their way of life. For them cash provides safety, security and even survival, which is why legislation is now needed to place an obligation on the banks, whose own customers’ interests we are concerned with,” Nick Read, chief executive of Post Office, said.

“We firmly believe working in partnership with the banks is pivotal to building a secure and sustainable cash system and ensuring financial inclusion. But the current cash infrastructure is fragile and we need the industry to fully commit to meeting its service obligations, supported by appropriate legislation that ultimately ensures we Save Our Cash.”

The campaign argues that without the protection of legislation, the lives and livelihoods of millions in the country will suffer. Post Office has urged the public to take part in the campaign by visiting where they can hear the real examples of six people reliant on cash, take a quiz to understand how cash impacts them and then write to their MP to call on government to bring forward legislation.

The campaign puts forward five key needs:

  • Place a legal obligation on retail banks to provide access to cash withdrawal services free at the point of service for both consumers and businesses who rely on cash for their everyday lives, covering both notes and coins.
  • Define appropriate national coverage criteria that banks must meet through this obligation that meets the needs of communities, ensuring that rural and urban deprived communities are not left behind.
  • Provide for the creation of an industry fund, to be administered by a central, single organisation, to support the deployment or ‘levelling up’ of cash solutions for communities without appropriate cash services.
  • Introduce greater transparency of deposit volumes and values in bank branches with volumetric and value information provided to the wider stakeholders on an industry-wide level to give better visibility of cash volumes and values nationwide.
  • Define a single regulator to provide oversight of cash, including financial institutions, cash processing and distribution organisations to ensure delivery against this legislation.