UK banks join forces to preserve access to cash

Further to their commitments to continue to preserve access to cash for consumers and businesses, the UK’s major retail banks, consumer groups, Post Office and LINK have agreed to collaborate to share services, ensuring long-term access to cash across the UK. The new approach to protecting access to cash has been developed by the Access to Cash Action Group (CAG) and builds on the insights from the Access to Cash Pilots which came to an end in October.

Following the success of the Pilots, CAG has announced that the following new services will be provided in 2022:

  • free-to-use ATMs in Betchworth (Surrey), Bo’ness (West Lothian), Brentwood (Essex), Hugh Town (Isles of Scilly), Low Fell (Tyne and Wear), Merthyr Vale (Mid Glamorgan), Mosborough (South Yorkshire), Norwich (Norfolk), Putney (London), Woolhampton (Berkshire), and Woodbury (Devon);
  • Post Office is ready to deliver new and improved, dedicated cash services in up to 30 branches; and
  • shared banking hubs in Acton (West London), Brixham (Devon), Carnoustie (Angus), Knaresborough (North Yorks) and Syston (Leicestershire) – building on the experience of the existing hubs piloted in Rochford, Essex and Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire.

The new services will complement other industry initiatives to support cash, eg ‘cashback without purchase’ (which is being rolled out to 2,000 retailers by the end of 2021), mobile branches and pop-up services, as well as services for people who need to make payments in their own homes.

The FCA and PSR have said they are pleased to see firms taking steps to maintain access to cash. However, they stress that individual firms remain responsible for ensuring their own customers are treated fairly – for instance, where a firm closes a branch or ATM in a local area, they are expected to assess alternatives that are available or could reasonably be put in place to meet customer needs.

FCA has also made it clear that firms should continue to follow its Guidance on branch and ATM closures or conversions (FG20/3) and Guidance on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers (FG21/1) when making and implementing their decisions.

Lucy Hadrill