Saving the UK’s Cash System is a Matter of Fairness.
Cambrian Credit Union was created tackle issues of financial exclusion in our communities. Twenty years ago these were mainly issues of low income and low credit scores. Recently have noticed how the loss of bank branches and free to use ATMs and increasing reliance on online services and electronic payment has increased the difficulty some people in our community face in getting their money as cash.
For many people loss of local cash services, whether a bank branch or ATM is an inconvenience. However we feel that the most financially vulnerable are getting hit hardest by this change. Financial exclusion is being increased. Examples include:
- Those who by choice or necessity live a ‘cash life’. In the UK there are an estimated 1.2 million people in the UK without a bank account. A recent report (Access to Cash Review, March 2019) estimates that 17% of the population would struggle in a cashless society.
- Those who struggle with technology or who need a friendly face to guide them through often complex processes to bank or withdraw cash. It is already noticeable that in many branches the priority of bank staff is to help customers use the automated services on offer rather than handle cash themselves.
- People without bank accounts who have to rely on prepaid cards already have to pay a fee to the card issuer to use an ATM. The loss of a free to use ATMs leaves these people hit twice as they may find themselves having to pay two lots of fees to obtain their cash.
Cambrian Credit Union believes passionately that it is not fair that the financially vulnerable (often the poorest in society) are being left behind by loss of cash services. The UK needs to learn from the experience of Sweden where a headlong dash to cashless left the vulnerable behind. Sweden is now having to take action rebuild the ability to handle cash. It is not too late for the UK Government to take action to preserve our cash handling infrastructure and Cambrian Credit Union welcomes the Which Freedon to Pay campaign (https://campaigns.which.co.uk/freedom-to-pay/) and the work of the Access to Cash Review.