Access to cash is a shared priority between HM Treasury, the Bank of England, the FCA and the PSR. On 16th June, the PSR and FCA published a joint statement on their approach to Access to Cash.
The Statement sets out what the regulators have been doing to ensure consumers have access to cash during the pandemic. This includes:
- developing a national map of access to cash, which identifies at a local level areas that have lost access to cash or other essential services due to temporary closures of bank branches and cash machines.
- held weekly meetings with senior stakeholders from across the industry, including banks, building societies, the Post Office, LINK.
- overseeing effective communication with people and businesses: when branches have needed to close, they have ensured that banks and building societies clearly communicate with customers to signpost nearby alternative services, such as the Post Office.
- ensuring that vulnerable people have alternative ways to access cash and other essential services, such as making in-person payments.
- engaging regularly with consumer organisations to gain insights during the crisis and to understand the impact on specific groups, such as the vulnerable or elderly.
Access as Legislation is Developed
The Statement also sets out their views in relation to access as legislation is developed.
Access to cash will remain a vital service for many in years to come. The FCA and PSR remain committed to helping ensure that consumers and businesses who need to access and deposit cash can continue to do so. Legislation announced in the 2020 Budget should enhance their ability to do this. However, before this is implemented, maintaining reasonable access to cash is a shared challenge for industry and regulators. The FCA and PSR will work with the industry to explore how it can provide an appropriate and sustainable model of accessing cash for example through wider use of shared services and initiatives involving local communities.
The regulators acknowledge that firms may need to take decisions on their provision of cash machines and bank branches, including through banks’ membership of the LINK scheme. In considering these issues, the FCA’s focus will be engaging with firms on the steps they are taking to consider the impact of these decisions on consumers.
The PSR will continue to work with LINK to protect widespread access to cash through the geographic ‘footprint’ of free-to-use cash machines.
They intend to publish a further update on their approach and work with industry later this summer.