Cash remains an important part of daily life in Southend West and for millions of people across the UK, which is why the Government has committed to legislate for the protection of access to cash.
To give you sense of where we are: In October 2021, LINK reported that there were around 41,000 free-to-use ATMs in the UK. More broadly, the Financial Conduct Authority reports that as of the second quarter of 2021, nearly 96 per cent of the UK population are within 2km of a free-to-use cash access point. I am happy to say that we have pretty good numbers of ATMs in Southend West, particularly on Broadway and on London Road.
So, following a detailed consultation, the Government intends to support the continued use of cash in people’s daily lives and help to enable local businesses to continue accepting cash by ensuring they can access deposit facilities. Having already facilitated the wide-spread adoption of cashback without a purchase through the Financial Services Act 2021, the Government will set out next steps in due course.
Although schemes such as Community Access to Cash have been very successful, I will look to make sure that future legislation will ensure the needs of cash users are understood and continue to be met by industry, particularly in regards to small business – it is one of my top priorities as MP to support our many fantastic local businesses in Southend West.
While cash acceptance is important, it is also vital to make sure that card transactions are as safe as possible during the pandemic so I think its good news that the Chancellor has decided to double the legal limit for single contactless payments from £45 to £100.
It’s also important to note that Covid-19 and its resulting restrictions impacted heavily upon charities' ability to generate cash donations and organising in-person events, and it is important that a return to these modes of fundraising is facilitated. Access to cash is particularly vital for the smooth functioning of these charity fundraising activities. I have spoken with colleagues at the Treasury who assure me that this is at the forefront of considerations when it comes to our ongoing plans to ensure people have access to cash.