12 September 2023
A Welcome Update on Protecting Access to Cash:
Thank you to those getting in touch with concerns about ongoing access to cash in Worthing, Arun and across the country.
Ordinary people need access to cash and local shops want to be able to accept money. We all have a responsibility to stop short-term ‘efficiency’ interfering in local trade for local benefits.
We must recognise that cash machines play a vital role in our communities and, often, are relied upon by those of us who may have less alternatives when dealing with personal finances.
In many areas across the country, including here in Worthing and Arun, cash machines have been disappearing and in-person banking services withdrawn at an alarming rate despite the fact that many constituents and businesses still rely on these vital services.
Many who rely on local cash machines can't drive, are unable to use online banking, or rely on cash for business and personal finances. Cash Machines are even more crucial now that some banks have gone in many areas.
It has been a longstanding campaign of mine to stop the emerging crisis of short-term ‘efficiency’ interfering with the accessibility of cash and in-person banking.
In recent years, I have urged the Treasury to look into how it can better support our local communities to keep these vital services readily available.
In 2019, I was one of the 124 cross-party MPs who wrote to the Barclays' CEO urging them to reverse the bank's decision to end free cash withdrawal services from the Post Office. Many constituents rely on the Post Office for vital banking activities including access to cash withdrawals. Companies must take seriously their responsibility for those who rely on them.
In response, Barclays announced its intention to reverse this policy and continue its service of free cash withdrawals from Post Offices across the nation.
In this spirit, I wrote again to the government asking that it follow through on its promise to deliver legislation to protect access to cash.
My team and I have been in close contact with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to discuss how to better protect the provision of cash deposit and withdrawal services across the UK. We were instrumental in gaining support from the Government to provide new powers to the FCA to actively respond to this worsening crisis.
Under this new framework, set out by the Treasury in August 2023, the vast majority of people and businesses are set to be no further than three miles away from withdrawing cash.
As part of this move, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been provided new powers by the government to protect the provision of cash access services. This includes protecting cash access without any fees for those who hold personal current accounts.
[UPDATE 07th Dec: A consultation has been launched by the FCA regarding their plans to further protect access to cash and in-person banking services. Further details can be found here.]
Constituents will join in welcoming this positive step forward. While the country continues to move further away from using coins and notes, cash still remains an integral part of many businesses and people’s lives.