The Post Office has launched a major new campaign today calling on government and industry to work together to ‘Save Our Cash’.
Around eight million adults have said they would struggle day to day without cash – these are our neighbours, our friends, our shopkeepers, our tradesmen and women. A staggering 1.4 million people do not even have a bank account and rely exclusively on cash to survive. 55% of cash-accepting small businesses deposited cash at least weekly, and need somewhere convenient, reliable and secure to deposit their takings.
Yet access to cash services is rapidly declining, with widespread bank branch closures across the country. According to Which? research, 4,188 bank branches have closed since the start of 2015, a rate of approximately 50 per month. The South East of England has experienced the biggest reduction in branches in the period, and Scotland will see over half of its banks close by the end of the year.
The new Post Office campaign tells the stories of everyday people and businesses that rely on cash day-to-day, all of which make an unarguable case for the now urgent need for Government to legislate to ensure that banks continue to ensure access to cash remains free at the point of service for both consumers and businesses right across the country. The campaign will ask people across the country to take part – by visiting saveourcash.co.uk anyone can hear the real examples of six people reliant on cash, take a quiz to understand how cash impacts them and then write to their MP to call on government to bring forward legislation.
The Banking Framework: working in partnership to save our cash
The Banking Framework is an agreement between Post Office and 30 UK banks, building societies and credit unions that ensures millions of customers have national, free access to cash and vital everyday banking services over the counter from their local Post Office. But the short-term nature of the Framework, which lasts just three years, is inherently fragile since it relies on the goodwill of each participating bank to continue to want to provide their customers with a means to withdraw and deposit cash locally. We think that needs to change.
Whether using the 11500-strong Post Office network or another provider, we think the banks ought to be under an obligation to ensure their customers can continue to access their own accounts, free of charge, somewhere local to them.
Five key needs to save our cash:
- Place a legal obligation on retail banks to provide access to cash withdrawal services free at the point of service for both consumers and businesses who rely on cash for their everyday lives, covering both notes and coins.
- Define appropriate national coverage criteria that banks must meet through this obligation that meets the needs of communities, ensuring that rural and urban deprived communities are not left behind.
- Provide for the creation of an industry fund, to be administered by a central, single organisation, to support the deployment or ‘levelling up’ of cash solutions for communities without appropriate cash services.
- Introduce greater transparency of deposit volumes and values in bank branches with volumetric and value information provided to the wider stakeholders on an industry-wide level to give better visibility of cash volumes and values nationwide.
- Define a single regulator to provide oversight of cash, including financial institutions, cash processing and distribution organisations to ensure delivery against this legislation.
Nick Read, Chief Executive of Post Office, said: “Continued access to cash is not a luxury for millions of people and businesses across the country: it is an absolute necessity for their way of life. For them cash provides safety, security and even survival, which is why legislation is now needed to place an obligation on the banks, whose own customers’ interests we are concerned with.
“We firmly believe working in partnership with the banks is pivotal to building a secure and sustainable cash system and ensuring financial inclusion. But the current cash infrastructure is fragile and we need the industry to fully commit to meeting its service obligations, supported by appropriate legislation that ultimately ensures we Save Our Cash.”
The Post Office network maintains more than 11,500 branches, with 99% of the population living within three miles of a Post Office. On average, over £2 billion of cash is withdrawn and deposited per month at Post Office branches. Annual volumes of cash withdrawals via Post Office counters have grown by 46%, to £7.8 billion since the start of the Banking Framework in 2017, and cash deposits have increased by 110% to £22.1 billion in the same period.
(Lead image: Alaur Rahman / Pexels.com)
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