People Can No Longer Spend a Penny in Cumbria
Lake District councillors in Cumbria, UK have expressed concern over plans to make the area’s public toilets cashless, a decision oddly out of step with a national movement to ‘restart cash’.
Overall, Lakes Parish Council agreed to convert facilities to accept card payments only, but dissenting voices questioned the accessibility barriers this would impose. While disabled facilities will remain free to use with RADAR keys, young people and others without cards will be excluded from using the non-disabled toilets.
It alienates people who don’t have cards, such as young children who could get caught out whilst they are playing or hanging out, or older people who don’t wish to have cards, and all those who generally just prefer to pay cash.
The move is particularly strange given a resurgence in cash use across the UK. During 2020, payment choice was often taken out of people’s hands, either because businesses had been obliged to move online, or else had introduced ‘no cash’ policies. As lockdowns have eased in 2021, in-person transactions are on the rise, and so too is cash.
Demand for our services in the cash cycle has gone up by over 70 percent in the last few months, and continues to rise. This is happening for one reason only: the public are out and about again… and a lot of people are choosing to make payments with cash.
Responding to these developments, the Post Office has launched a ‘save our cash’ campaign, calling for banks and building societies to be legally obliged to provide access to cash, overseen by a single regulator. At present, a three-year agreement is in place that ensures customers of all major UK banks can withdraw cash at the Post Office’s 11,500 branches. The Post Office points out, however, that the short-term nature of this agreement means it is ‘inherently fragile’ and, when it ends, people could be left struggling to access cash.
There is already hope for these people in the form of a new law targeted at improving access to cash, that will see establishments from corner shops to cafés and pubs able to offer cashback with no purchase required. As the first concrete step towards providing the support of cash promised in the 2020 Budget, it is hoped by many that payment choice will grow again in the UK to encompass both cash and cashless options.
Perhaps—as cash access and usage rises throughout 2021—Lakes Parish Council will reverse their decision, and allow locals and visitors alike to meet a basic, universal need using the most basic, universal form of payment.