Legislation aimed at preserving high street access to cash likely to be confirmed in Queen’s Speech
Legislation aimed at preserving high street access to cash is likely to be confirmed in the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday. The speech outlines the Government’s legislative agenda for the year ahead.
If it is confirmed, it will mark a significant victory for The Mail on Sunday.
We have campaigned tirelessly in recent years for cash to remain a payment choice on the high street despite the best efforts of the banks and some retailers to push customers towards contactless payment.
Pound in your pocket: We have campaigned tirelessly in recent years for cash to remain a payment choice on the high street
More than two years ago, Chancellor Rishi Sunak promised legislation to protect access to cash – key for many elderly people and those on low incomes who are cash dependent.
But lockdown pushed the legislation down a siding. But a rash of bank branch and cash machine closures has persuaded the Government to put legislation back on the table.
It is believed that the new legislation will empower the Financial Conduct Authority to oversee access to cash. It will have the power to require the big high street banks to install shared ATMs and bank branches in communities stripped of ready access to cash.
Currently, there is a voluntary agreement in place, brokered by cash champion Natalie Ceeney through the Access to Cash Group.
This requires banks to put in place alternative cash facilities if a community loses its last bank and cash machine network operator Link deems remedial action is required.
But legislation would enshrine such requirements in law, giving the banks no wriggle room and little influence on how the regulator determines which communities need improved access to cash.
On Friday, John Howells, chief executive of Link, said legislation would represent ‘a serious step forward’. He added: ‘We need legislation if we want to preserve access to cash on the high street. The current set-up is untenable.’