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Which? urges government to protect access to cash for most vulnerable

By Caoimhe Toman

Date: Tuesday 02 Jun 2020

Which? urges government to protect access to cash for most vulnerable

(Sharecast News) - Vulnerable people are at risk of being unable to access cash to pay for goods and services as the coronavirus crisis accelerates the transition to cashless payments.
Consumer group Which? warned that unless the government actively protects the most vulnerable, who still depend on cash, then more ATMs will close due to sharp drops in usage.

Link, for example, said it saw a 60% fall in April, although it said £1bn a week was still being withdrawn.

Many of those who had been unable to shop for themselves had used cash to reimburse friends and family who had stepped in to help.

In the survey carried out by Which?, one in five people were helping others to cover their necessities during the lockdown months. Of these 51% had been reimbursed in cash.

Retailers are also an important part of the transition to cashless payments as one in ten people were refused cash when trying to pay.

In March's budget, the government said it would legislate to protect access to cash for as long as people needed it. The announcement came after claims from Cash Review warned that 8m adults in the UK would struggle to cope in a cashless society.

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, said: "Failure to do so risks excluding millions of people from engaging in the economy.

It's vital that the already fragile cash system is not left to collapse completely as the UK's shift to a cashless society accelerates."

"The impact of lockdown has accelerated the decline in the use of cash overall but it still remains a crucial means of paying for many people," he added.

"Without clear legislation, we risk the creation of cash deserts. We cannot allow financial exclusion of those who rely on cash purchases and face-to-face banking."

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