JEFF PRESTRIDGE: Chancellor must stop stalling over access to cash

For two years, Chancellor promised legislation over access to cash, but has stalled – now JEFF PRESTRIDGE says ‘do the right thing Rishi’

Access to cash is an issue that this money section is passionate about. It is a fundamental right that consumers should have a choice of how they pay for services face to face. 

Of course, contactless cards and mobile phone payments are convenient, but not everyone wants to use them. 

My mother, for one, would not entertain the thought of waving a bit of plastic or a mobile phone over a card reader to carry out a transaction. She’s not alone, as my mailbag constantly reminds me. It’s why we run our Keep Our Cash campaign. 

Stalling: Chancellor Rishi Sunak has promised legislation on access to cash

It’s why we have railed against the bank branch closures that Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and NatWest have announced this year – all 180 of them. 

More are to come before the year is out – I’d bet the contents of my Isa on it. And it’s why we support initiatives such as shared bank branches in communities where access to cash has been stripped away – as a result of the closure of the last bank branch in town and often the free-to-use ATM attached to it. 

There’s a chance for the Government to safeguard cash next month when the new legislative programme is outlined in the Queen’s speech. 

For the last two years, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has promised legislation on cash, but has stalled – partly because of Covid and I imagine pressure from the banks. 

Now is his chance to redeem himself by putting in place legislation that will require banks to provide nationwide access to cash. 

Just to emphasise the importance, more than 70 MPs have signed an open letter stating legislation is ‘vital’. 

Lead signatory is Esther McVey, Conservative MP for Tatton. The letter doesn’t mince its words. 

Legislation must be introduced ‘without further delay to avoid an irreversible hollowing of the UK’s cash infrastructure that leaves communities unable to withdraw or deposit cash’. 

It concludes by saying legislation would ensure consumers are not left behind and that cash can continue ‘to play a practical and vibrant role that meets the future needs of both UK businesses and the wider UK economy’. 

A coalition of pro-cash allies, led by ATM provider Cardtronics, will press the case for legislation on Tuesday at a parliamentary event. 

Choice in payment methods should be a financial right. We should not allow the banks to railroad us into a cashless society.

Woeful train service reminds me of FCA 

Why do we always have to suffer on bank holidays as some mainline train stations close and train services are suspended? 

Getting into work two days ago was a nightmare, turning Good Friday into Bad Friday. I wouldn’t mind if there was a discernible improvement in train services following the track and signalling works. But that doesn’t happen. 

Trains where I live regularly get cancelled without explanation, especially if the service is an early one and station employees are nowhere to be seen. 

It’s on a par with the woeful service that the Financial Conduct Authority provides as part of its remit to protect the financial interests of consumers. 

Scandal after scandal is missed while redress takes forever and an age to arrive. 

News that the watchdog’s staff are going on strike over pay surprises me. I thought they had been on strike for quite a while. FCA? Futile, Contrary, Awful. It needs a rocket up its proverbial backside.