Charity calls on Government to guarantee access to cash for all

A charity is warning that continuing to move away from cash could leave more older people feeling isolated.

By David Sedgwick
Monday, 5th July 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 9th July 2021, 11:29 am
Age UK is warning that older people should not be cut off from accessing cash.
Age UK is warning that older people should not be cut off from accessing cash.

In its new Behind the Headlines report ‘Short-changed: How the decline of cash is affecting older people’ Age UK is warning that being cut off from cash and banking services is tantamount to being excluded from society.

Findings from the Financial Lives 2020 survey found around 2.4million people aged 65 and over in the UK relied on cash to a great extent in their day-to-day life.

The charity says that while cash use has declined over the last year, it would be a mistake to assume that everyone in society is willing or able to make all their financial transactions digitally.

Age UK is calling for the urgent introduction of a Universal Service Obligation (USO) on banks to guarantee access to cash for everyone.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “This report demonstrates the continuing critical importance of cash in our society.

"It’s not only essential for older people but for us all, in a world increasingly compelling us to manage our money digitally.

"Protecting the cash system is essential for enabling millions of citizens to go about their lives, and since it was still widely used during the pandemic, when spending opportunities were few, it’s going to be all the more important for us once we emerge from it and return to some kind of normality.

“Older people who use cash and their local bank branch are finding it increasingly impossible to manage their money because more and more barriers are being put in their way.

“It’s time for the Government to recognise how important banknotes and coins are to all our lives and treat the cash system as the essential piece of infrastructure it is – just like utilities, post and broadband.”

Amy Whyte, Head of Charitable services at Age UK Northumberland, said: “We cannot afford to take away the independence of our older generation by removing access to cash, particularly at a time when there is a great deal of work to be done to get our older people out and able safely and happily.

"For many, cash is the way that they have managed their finances for 60 years plus and who are we to try to change that now.”