To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing short term measures to protect the cash system following the national covid-19 lockdown announced in January 2021.
The Government recognises that cash remains important to millions of people across the UK and has committed to protecting access to cash for those that need it. The Government published a Call for Evidence on 15 October 2020 seeking views on the key considerations associated with cash access, including deposit and withdrawal facilities, cash acceptance, and regulatory oversight of the cash system. The Call for Evidence closed on the 25 November 2020. The Government is considering responses and will set out next steps in due course.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Treasury has been working closely with regulators and industry to ensure customers continue to have access to essential banking services, while also protecting the safety of staff and customers. This has meant the vast majority of people have been able to access cash through the pandemic.
The Government continues to be fully supportive of the Post Office Banking Framework Agreement. The agreement allows 95% of business and 99% of personal banking customers to carry out their everyday banking at 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK until December 2022. The terms of future Banking Framework Agreements are commercial decisions between industry and the Post Office. The Government will continue to engage with industry and the Post Office to ensure that that all customers, wherever they live, continue to have access to over the counter banking services.
Since 1998, all the major UK banks and building societies have participated in LINK, enabling their ATMs to be used by customers of the other members of the network. Presently, ATMs are the most commonly used means of withdrawing cash. Membership of LINK is a commercial decision.