The Government recognise the importance of access to cash in the daily lives of millions of people across the UK. In the Queen’s Speech, the Government announced that we will legislate to protect access to cash in the financial services and markets Bill, which will be brought forward soon, when parliamentary time allows. We consulted on legislative approaches last year and will publish a summary of responses to the consultation this week.
If we look at the demographic of people who are most likely to be reliant on access to cash, we see that in large part it is those who are vulnerable or on low incomes. If someone is down to their last £10, they cannot afford a withdrawal fee at an ATM. Will the Government look to make all ATMs free to use for the customer by working with banks and ATM providers to reform the interchange fee, so that the system accounts for varying demographics, geography and demand in a way that it currently does not?
As I said, the Government’s response will be revealed in the legislation. When I visited the hon. Member’s constituency not so long ago, I saw that the use of hubs—banks working together to provide access to cash—is key. There are 72,000 cash access points and 430,000 cashback locations across the UK. A coherent response that addresses the hon. Member’s points will be made in the legislation.