To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of trends in people's ability to pay for goods and services using cash during the covid-19 outbreak; and what steps the Government is taking to mitigate the risk of widespread cash refusal.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to his Department's consultation on protecting access to cash, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of giving the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) overall responsibility for maintaining a well-functioning cash system; and what discussions his Department has had with the FCA on them taking on that role.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions his Department has had with the (a) Financial Conduct Authority, (b) Payment Systems Regulator and (c) industry stakeholders on a minimum service guarantee for cash; and what the timetable is for bringing forward legislative proposals on protecting access to cash.
The Government recognises that cash remains important to millions of people across the UK, which is why it has committed to legislate to protect access to cash and to ensure that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable in the long term. The Government is working at pace, engaging with industry and the regulators – the Financial Conduct Authority, Payment Systems Regulator, and Bank of England – whilst designing legislation.
To inform the development of this legislation, the Government published a Call for Evidence on 15 October seeking views on the key considerations associated with cash access, including deposit and withdrawal facilities, cash acceptance, and regulatory oversight of the cash system. As set out in the Call for Evidence, the Government considers that there may be benefit in giving a single authority overall responsibility for setting requirements to ensure that the retail distribution of cash meets the needs of consumers and businesses. The government’s view is that the FCA may be well positioned to take on the function through legislation.
The Government also remains closely engaged with the financial regulators, including through the Treasury-chaired Joint Authorities Cash Strategy Group, to monitor and assess risks around cash relating to COVID-19. In order to help control the virus, all businesses and individuals are encouraged to follow the latest Government advice. To work safely, retailers have been recommended to minimise contact around transactions, for example, considering using contactless payments. It remains the individual retailer’s choice as to whether to accept or decline any form of payment, including cash or card.