Nearly a quarter of free ATMs have been out of service since 2018, according to consumer society Which?. Nearly half of bank branches have also reportedly been doomed since 2015.
Recent nationwide lockdowns have moved the country away from regular cash use, with some businesses opting to only accept card payments, citing fears of Covid transmission.
But campaigners have warned that moving away from cash being readily available risks many Britons ‘being cut off’.
Who? this week wrote to the Treasury, noting: “With the rising cost of living putting further pressure on people’s personal finances, the consequences of not being able to withdraw cash for consumers already dependent on it could be important.”
He added: “Unless legislation is urgently introduced, the ability to access, spend and deposit money could be permanently lost for many consumers, leaving some of the most disadvantaged in society at risk of financial exclusion without any means of paying for the goods and services they need. in their daily lives.”
MP Andrew Rosindell thinks going cashless would be a “serious mistake”.
The Tory MP for Romford insisted it is ‘critical’ that Britons continue to have easy access to money, describing it as ‘a cause worth fighting for’.
Mr Rosindell told Express.co.uk: “By moving only to digital currency and online banking, it discriminates against older people and often makes it more difficult for families on the lowest incomes to budget effectively.
“Not only that, we cannot and should not rely on technology to be in charge of our daily lives, especially when it comes to our money.
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Age UK, Fairer Since and the British Retail Consortium, among other organisations, supported Which? the government to legislate to protect the future of cash in its forthcoming Queen’s Speech (May).
He pointed out that since 2018, 12,178 free ATMs have been removed.
On top of that, 4,685 bank branches have closed since 2015, and another 226 are already expected to close by the end of the year.
Cash fears are even greater in parts of the country which the consumer champion described as having “particularly difficult access to cash”.
He identified 17 parliamentary constituencies with three or fewer bank branches and 30 or fewer free ATMs.
These represented more than 1.5 million people.
A Treasury spokesperson responded to the concerns: “We know that cash remains vital for millions of people and we are committed to protecting access to cash across the UK. That’s why we’ve consulted on draft new laws to make sure people only have to walk a reasonable distance to pay or withdraw cash, and we’ve already legislated to allow stores to offer cash back to customers without them having to make a purchase.
They added: ‘We have reviewed the responses to the consultation and will define next steps in due course.