Sunday, July 3, 2022

Small firms call for action over disappearance of free cash machines

The FSB is calling for access to cash to be protected, as bank branch numbers fall, and Which? publishes new research on the disappearance of free-to-use cash machines on the high street.

Responding to new findings from Which? regarding access to cash ahead of next week’s Queen’s Speech, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chair Martin McTague, who sits on the Access to Cash Pilots Board, said:“With our bank branch infrastructure further decimated over the pandemic, this Queen’s Speech is the last chance saloon where protecting access to cash is concerned.

“Four in ten small high street businesses say cash is the number one payment method among customers, and six in ten need to make regular cash deposits.

“Since the Access to Cash Review was published, we haven’t seen meaningful movement in the numbers of customers and small firms that rely on cash day to day. But we have seen further closures of bank branches, and new limits on opening hours – choking off supply while demand remains.

“Notes and coins are still important to the lives of millions of consumers, not least disabled people, the elderly and those on tight budgets. Physical currency is also a vital backup for when digital systems fail.

“Online banking brings massive benefits in terms of productivity and efficiency. Policymakers and banks should be working hand in glove to get everyone online and up to speed with all the perks that managing finances safely online can bring.

“But so long as the need for cash remains, free access should be protected. Often, it’s in areas where consumers are most reliant on notes and coins that pay-to-use machines pop up – every pound spent on accessing cash is a pound not spent with the local small businesses on which our recovery will depend.

“Legislation and clear oversight by a single regulator in this space is overdue – the former was promised years ago. It’s time to turn positive words into positive action.”

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