Pivotal moment as banks, consumer groups, Post Office and LINK join forces to help protect cash services

Pivotal moment as banks, consumer groups, Post Office and LINK join forces to help protect cash services

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A landmark agreement has been reached between the major retail banks to share services, ensuring long-term cash availability across the UK

  • UK banks agree to share services to ensure communities have fair access to cash
  • Communities cash needs to be independently assessed by LINK (which already fulfils this role for ATMs), with the power to commission services to meet community cash needs
  • Shared banking hubs to be rolled out alongside free ATMs, enhanced Post Office services, and cashback without purchase

A landmark agreement has been reached between the major retail banks to share services, ensuring long-term cash availability across the UK.

The collaboration, achieved through the Access to Cash Action Group (CAG) (all major retail banks, Age UK, Toynbee Hall and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)), marks the beginning of a long-term commitment to ensuring widespread cash and banking access for communities where services are limited.

Cash use has been in decline in recent years – a trend accelerated and exacerbated by the pandemic – with current use 35% below pre-Covid levels. However, millions of people across the UK still use cash daily. Banks and consumer groups alike recognise the need to ensure that consumers and small businesses who need cash can continue to withdraw and deposit it.

Under the new model, any community that faces the closure of a core cash service, such as a bank branch or ATM, will have its needs independently assessed by LINK. LINK will then determine whether a new solution should be provided to meet that community’s cash needs. LINK, which already provides ATMs where communities need them, will commission services to meet the cash needs of the community as a whole – not just the customers or members of one bank or building society. Communities will also be able to request a review of their community’s needs from the summer of 2022. LINK has already assessed most communities where closures have taken place over the past year. As a result, we can announce now that the following new services will be provided in 2022, with announcements of further services to come in early 2022:

  • 11 free-to-use ATMs free-to-use ATMs in Betchworth (Surrey), Bo’ness (West Lothian), Brentwood (Essex), Hugh Town (Isles of Scilly), Low Fell (Tyne and Wear), Merthyr Vale (Mid Glamorgan), Mosborough (South Yorkshire), Norwich (Norfolk), Putney (London), Woolhampton (Berkshire), and Woodbury (Devon).
  • Post Office is ready to deliver new and improved, dedicated cash services in up to 30 branches

  • Shared banking hubs in Acton (West London), Brixham (Devon), Carnoustie (Angus), Knaresborough (North Yorks) and Syston (Leicestershire) – building on the experience of the existing hubs piloted in Rochford, Essex and Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire

These new shared services will complement other industry initiatives to support cash and banking, such as ‘cashback without purchase’ – being rolled out to 2,000 retailers by the end of 2021, mobile branches and pop-up services, as well as services for people who need to make payments in their own homes.

The decision to create shared banking services follows regional pilots across eight UK communities. As part of this, shared banking hubs were piloted in Rochford, Essex and Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire. The full report of the pilots is also published today.

This work, of the Cash Action Group (CAG), was convened earlier this year by UK Finance and chair Natalie Ceeney CBE, author of the Access to Cash Review, and made up of senior representatives from across the financial services industry, leading consumer groups, FSB, LINK and the Post Office.

Sian Williams, Toynbee Hall’s Director of Policy and Innovation, has led our financial inclusion programmes since 2009, and sits on the Cash Action Group to help ensure that the solutions are truly effective in meeting people’s needs.

“Opportunities like this to create cross-sector, collaborative solutions which are both people-centered and highly effective are extremely rare. So we at Toynbee Hall are delighted to have contributed to helping shape this new approach through our membership of the Cash Action Group. We’ve been reassured by the high level of goodwill and motivation we’ve seen across the banking sector to find solutions that really work for those communities whose vital access to cash is at risk. And we want to pay particular thanks to Natalie Ceeney for leading this work with such skill, vision and clarity.

We believe the proposed new approach will work precisely because it is built on the insight of people with lived experience of exclusion. But long-term success depends on high levels of continued collaboration and goodwill from the banks, the government, the regulator, Link and all relevant parts of civil society to join forces to help put these new measures into place and make them work for the communities we are all committed to serving.” 

Natalie Ceeney CBE, Chair of CAG and the Community Access to Cash Pilots:

“I’m delighted that the industry is today committing to ensuring that the cash needs of consumers and small businesses up and down the UK will continue to be met. We know that demand for cash is declining, but we also know that it continues to play a vital part in the lives of at least 5 million people in the UK – including some of the most vulnerable in society. The community pilots have shown that there are many different ways to meet people’s cash needs. Informed by this experience, I’m confident that the new plan will lay the foundations for a positive future for cash access across the UK.”

Read Community Access to Cash Pilots Report here


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