UK to Introduce 'Three Mile Cash Access' Legislation

Aug 21, 2023


UK ministers have announced legislation requiring banks and building societies to provide free cash withdrawal facilities within three miles of consumers and businesses.

In an exclusive from Sky News, it was announced that the Treasury will publish a set of guidelines laying out the new requirements for provision of cash deposit and withdrawal facilities, which are presently failing to meet demand outside major cities. It is believed the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will be empowered to fine banks and building societies failing to maintain adequate availability of cash.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, editor Mark Kleinman notes bank branches have closed across the nation, leaving many ‘without guaranteed cash access.’ We recently reported on warnings from ATM operator Notemachine that the UK is set to lose around one thousand free-to-use cash points due to insufficient government funding. This all comes at a time when cash use in Britain has risen for the first time in over a decade and research has found around half of the nation’s small and medium businesses rely heavily on cash.

In a statement on the UK Government website, Andrew Griffith, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, notes ‘cash has an important and continuing role to play’ in the payments landscape, alongside digital payment options.

People shouldn’t have to trek for hours to withdraw a tenner to put in someone’s birthday card, nor should businesses have to travel large distances to deposit cash takings. These are measures which benefit everyone who uses cash but particularly those living in rural areas, the elderly and those with disabilities.
"Andrew GriffithEconomic Secretary to the Treasury

There has been activity this year recognising the importance of cash access, including a collective of banks exploring shared banking hubs for areas affected by branch closures, and the Access to Cash Action Group selecting areas—including popular coastal town Swanage—where they will explore how best to restore cash services.

Despite this progress, FCA research found cash access is markedly lower in Scotland and Wales than the rest of the UK, with rural areas of north and south-west England also not well served. It remains to be seen how the new legislation will apply to these regions.

Last Updated: May 10, 2024