Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledges to protect the future of cash in the UK

Tom McArthur
Page editor
A detail of an out of order Cash dispenser (ATM) in West Norwood, south London, on 14th November 2019, in London, England. (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)

New laws to protect the ability to use hard cash are to be revealed next week.

The major boost for millions of people around the United Kingdom who rely on notes and coins will be announced in next week’s Budget.

The Treasury is expected to start talks with the industry and regulators – the Bank of England, Financial Conduct Authority and Payment Systems Regulator – around legislation immediately after the 11 March Budget.

One area being looked at by new chancellor Rishi Sunak  is whether to give watchdogs new powers that could force banks continue to provide cash to customers who need it.

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The Treasury also wants the banks to create a new system for moving money around the country, so cash remains accessible for those who use it every day and to prevent the creation of “cash deserts” in parts of the UK.

Mr Sunak said: “People across Britain work hard for their money, with millions relying on coins and notes to make their daily payments.

“That’s why, at next week’s Budget, I’ll be making sure they can continue to access and spend their earnings in whatever way they want.”

Last week the Access to Cash Review warned that the use of physical cash is falling in the country and could collapse.

They had previously predicted that society would be at the point of being "virtually cashless" by 2035, with fewer than one-in-10 transactions being made in cash.

But trade association UK Finance now expects the UK to hit this point within the next decade.

Around two million people in the UK still rely on cash for their day-to-day spending – with three in 10 payments still made using notes and coins.

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In 2018, 50 million adults used cash machines, with 87% of them using one at least once a month.

The commitment to legislation builds on government efforts to protect cash, including investing £2 billion since 2010 to ensure everyday banking services, including the ability to deposit and withdraw cash, are available at the Post Office’s 11,500 branches across the UK.