On June 15th, 2019, the financial branch of the Daily Mail, This Is Money, published an article about the new pro-cash manifesto and the woman who inspired it. Natalie Ceeney, former head of the Financial Ombudsman Service, published the Access to Cash review earlier this year, triggering further thought across the country about the need to keep cash accessible and free, as a public good.
The campaign follows the 'Freedom to Pay our Way' (#freedom2pay) campaign by Which?, the UK's leading consumer rights charity. The Which? campaign was fueled by evidence and concern of the UK seeing a dramatic drop in free ATM numbers.
Your message is clear: Keep notes and coins
On Thursday, the last bank in town – Santander – will close its doors for the final time. The 58-year-old retired accountant says: 'Ours is a thriving community with lots of visitors coming to enjoy the shops and scenery of the Pennine Way. When I moved here 30 years ago there were four banks – now the nearest branch will be five miles away in Bury.'
'The elderly and vulnerable, especially those without cars, are being abandoned and it is a huge inconvenience to those who prefer face-to-face banking and need access to cash. The only ones that benefit are the banks that save themselves money.'
A so-called 'universal service obligation'.
This would ensure all communities of a certain population size (for example 1,000 plus) have free (and easily available) access to cash. This could be through a 24-hour, seven days a week ATM, a local post office, cashback in a local store or new ways of delivering cash.
Ideally, [Natalie Ceeney] says, this 'obligation' would be enshrined in law with communities able to 'appeal' against access to cash that they felt was not 'suitable' – for example, an ATM located at the top of a big hill, making it difficult for some elderly people to use. As for ATMs, she wants a more even nationwide distribution, even if it means a reduction in the numbers located in busy City centres.