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According to new findings from consumer group Which?, bank branches and ATM’s are still at risk of being closed, causing harm to those who heavily rely on cash and face-to-face banking.  

Which? discovered that almost half of the UK’s bank branches have disappeared, with over four thousand shut since 2015, and a further 226 scheduled to close by the end of the year. Their analysis also suggests that branches are shutting at a faster rate in rural areas, and will vitally affect those from more vulnerable backgrounds, people on lower incomes, and the elderly. The group has now called for the Government to act now to prevent the cash crisis.  

Last year, the Fed answered a government consultation, stating the necessity to keep cash easily accessible in the UK. The Fed is extremely aware that cash usage has fallen dramatically since the pandemic, but the importance of cash access facilities remain, particularly in rural locations. The closure of bank branches and post offices cause problems for customers and retailers who rely on cash facilities. The NFRN asked that the legislation sets geographical requirements to limit bank branch and post office closures.  

For retailers, access to withdrawal and deposit facilities in rural areas has a direct impact on the cost, time of travel, and the security implications of carrying high quantities of money.  For consumers, this problem has been aggravated since removal of free-to-use ATM machines and their replacement with machines that charge for cash withdrawals. The government should take steps to ensure all cash users have reasonable access to free cash facilities, imposing obligation on service providers, including through geographically based criteria. 

On April 26, 2022, Which? Sent a formal letter to Her Majesty’s Treasury, pushing for new, protective legislation to protect those who rely on cash the most. 

The letter stated: “With rising living costs placing additional pressure on people’s personal finances, the consequences of being unable to withdraw cash for those consumers who already rely on it could be significant. 

“Unless legislation is introduced urgently, the ability to access, spend and deposit cash could be permanently lost for many consumers, leaving some of society’s most disadvantaged at risk of financial exclusion with no way to pay for the goods and services they need in their daily lives.” 

To help join the Which? Cash campaign, visit Why it’s now or never to halt the cash crisis – Which? Conversation 


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