To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of trends in the levels of the use of cash by people since April 2020.
The Government continues to engage with the regulators and industry to monitor and assess trends and risks around cash, including those resulting from COVID-19. The Government created the Joint Authorities Cash Strategy Group in 2019, which has provided a forum for the public bodies to formally co-ordinate regarding access to cash. This is chaired by HM Treasury and attended by the Bank of England, Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The Group published an update on the actions of the Group’s members in July 2020. This included work led by the PSR and FCA to develop a comprehensive picture of cash access infrastructure across the UK.
UK Finance publishes annual analysis on payment trends in the UK. The UK Payment Market Report 2021 was published on 16 June 2021 and shows that cash remained the second most frequently used method of payment in the UK, as of 2020, representing almost a fifth of payments.
The Government recognises that cash remains important to the daily lives of millions of people and businesses across the UK and has committed to protecting access to cash for those who need it and ensuring that the UK's cash infrastructure is sustainable for the long term.
To these ends, the Government made legislative changes via the Financial Services Act 2021 to support the widespread offering of cashback without a purchase, and on 1 July published a consultation on broader legislative proposals to protect access to cash. These proposals seek to ensure that people only need to travel reasonable distances to pay in or take out cash, and that the right regulatory oversight for cash access is in place for the future. The consultation is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/access-to-cash-consultation.