The Government has responded to the Scottish Affairs Committee’s report on access to cash in Scotland, published in July. It notes, of course, that since the report, the FSMB, with its proposals for protecting access to cash, has started its Parliamentary process.
Among the Committee recommendations were:
- that if FCA finds a substantial number of retailers refusing to accept cash, the Government should introduce protections to ensure that consumers reliant on cash are not disadvantaged. The Government notes its ongoing support for the ongoing use of cash, but notes that whether to use or accept it must be the choice of individuals and organisations. The Committee had noted that cash use in Scotland is higher than the UK average, while the number of people reporting they were unable to pay in cash was similar to the overall national figure;
- that the Government clarifies its position on how the FSM Bill will interact with existing financial inclusion solutions – such as by mandating membership of LINK for card issuers and ATM operators, and that it should refocus efforts on introducing network-wide deposit-taking ATMs: the Government notes the significant steps industry has taken, including the Cash Action Group work on a voluntary industry model for provision of access to cash facilities and shared banking hubs. It also notes that potential providers of deposit solutions could speak to FCA’s Innovation Hub. It says, however, that the FSM Bill won’t determine how industry provides access to cash facilities, but is focussed on ensuring that there is reasonable provision of relevant facilities; and
- that there should be a long-term commitment from banks to keep using the Post Office network to maintain appropriate banking services: the Government reiterated its support for the Banking Framework agreement, and notes that a new agreement will run from the beginning of 2023 to the end of 2025. It also notes the collaboration between the Post Office and the financial services sector to provide shared banking services where recommended by LINK.
The Scottish Affairs Committee said it was very disappointed with the Government response.