// Retail and consumer groups say cash needs to safeguarded
// 2.2 million people entirely dependent on cash in the UK
// “The government must urgently introduce its promised legislation to ensure consumers have local access to cash for as long as they need it,” says Which?
A group of retail and consumer lobbyists are calling on the government to protect consumer access to cash.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and UK consumer charity Which? has joined with the British Independent Retailers Association, the Association of Convenience Stores and the FSB National Policy in asking the government to safeguard the million of consumers and business who rely on cash.
The news comes as the government’s call for evidence in how people in the UK use cash payments ends today.
Whilst the use of coins and notes has been falling in recent years, according to research by the BRC, 2.2 million people entirely dependent on cash in the UK.
The retail group said cash purchases totalled £78 billion in retail sales last year, with 67 per cent of consumers using cash more than once a week.
The pandemic has led to an increase in card and contactless payments, but the retail lobbyists noted that even with this reduction, retailers find securing basic cash services such as store collections is increasingly difficult.
“With costs increasing for facilitating of cash transactions, retailers are calling on the Government to step in to maintain competitive commercial cash supply services across the UK and protect cash-dependent consumers. It is also important that shops are compensated fairly for providing customers with financial services through store ATMs and cashback,” said the group on Wednesday.
“Not being able to access and spend cash has alarming consequences for consumers, especially those in the UK’s more remote communities, while the move towards pay-to-use ATMs is major concern in less affluent areas where people are penalised and disincentivised to withdraw cash, with adverse knock-on effects for local economies,” the group added in a joint statement.
“With cash services increasingly difficult to obtain and the cost of these services rising, the BRC is calling for fair compensation for retailers providing financial services to their customers which will in turn protect access to cash for many vulnerable people,” BRC Payments Policy Advisor Andrew Cregan said.
“Millions of consumers still rely on cash every day and local shops are increasingly being relied upon to give people access to their cash,” FSB National Policy vice chairman Martin McTague said.
“Many local shops already provide cashback services to customers, but this may not be appropriate for every store and should not be seen as a simple replacement for the ATM network. Where local shops are able to provide cashback, they should be appropriately remunerated for that service. Whether it’s providing ATMs or cashback, retailers cannot be expected to offer these services at a loss,” McTague added.
“After huge numbers of ATM and bank branch closures in recent years, the government must urgently introduce its promised legislation to ensure consumers have local access to cash for as long as they need it,” Which? Head of money Gareth Shaw said.
“The FCA, which should be the single regulator for cash, needs to closely track cash acceptance, as protecting access will be undermined if there is nowhere to spend it – and would exclude some of the most vulnerable in society from being able to pay for vital products and services,” Shaw added.