Cash may no longer be king but it does have a queen. Former Chief Financial Ombudsman Natalie Ceeney has produced a report to find new
ways to protect access to cash for the estimated eight million people who still rely on it. The banks and networks that move our money around have agreed to fund at least some of them in the future.
Perhaps the most dramatic experiment was Post Office BankHubs – which allow people to use a post office counter to pay in and take out money from their account with any major bank. The banks take it in turns, one day a week, to have someone there for customers to discuss finances with.
Two other ideas also worked well. Cash machines that charged £1.99 for a cash withdrawal as low as £10 were replaced with free machines. Of course, use went up. But one problem with cash machines is the minimum £10 withdrawal. So another initiative extended cashback from shops to non-customers: people could just walk in and get cash on their debit card even if they bought nothing, and with no minimum and no need for round amounts. One person took out £1.19.
The people who gained most from initiatives in the trials were on low incomes and used cash to budget. No other way of dealing with money lets you see how much you have left, and what you can spend.
BankHub worked so well it will stay open in the two towns where it was piloted until at least 2023, and five more have been announced. Free ATMs are being extended. And whenever the last bank branch in town closes, an assessment will be done by the cash machine network Link to see what is needed to keep cash available. Any individual who lives in a “cash desert” can also approach Link’s Community Request Scheme and it’ll explore options to bring back cash.
At least there is now a way forward for access to cash, though “something where before there was nothing” is perhaps the best summary of it.
For more details, visit link.co.uk