The right to cash should become law to protect against mass bank closures
- ‘Disturbing’ consequences of series of High Street bank closures, GMB said
The right to use cash should be enshrined in law to protect people amid mass bank closures, a union has urged.
There are “real and disturbing” consequences from a series of High Street bank closures, the GMB, one of Britain’s biggest unions, said yesterday.
It is the latest organization to call for cash payments to be protected, as many shops and venues now allow customers to pay only by card or digital methods.
Low-paid workers, older people and small businesses are among those who could be at greater risk of financial crime if they lack skills with digital payments technology, the GMB said.
Gary Smith, general secretary of the GMB, said: ‘If you haven’t had to use a computer in your daily work, then learning how to do so as an older person, without support, can be a challenge. And learning to spot scammers becomes more difficult again.’
There are “real and disturbing” consequences to a series of High Street bank closures, the GMB, one of Britain’s largest unions, said yesterday (pictured: GMB general secretary Gary Smith).
The GMB wants to see legislation similar to that in US states such as New Jersey and Connecticut. It wants the legal right to pay for goods and services in person using cash, and a legal obligation for banks and ATMs to provide an adequate network of free cash deposit and withdrawal services across the UK.
GMB and Aegis, the financial services union, are seeking support for their campaign at the annual conference of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) this week.
Rishi Sunak has said it would not be “appropriate” for the Government to impose such restrictions on businesses.
An increase in the number of shops asking for non-cash payment methods has gone hand in hand with a wave of bank and building society closures.
Some 5,600 branches have closed since January 2015, at a rate of around 54 each month, according to consumer group Which?.
In 2023 alone, 427 bank branches were closed and another 220 are expected to close this year, that is, 647 in total.
‘Allowing this trend to continue would have serious consequences. “Millions of vulnerable customers would be left with little or no access to their cash,” Mr Smith said yesterday.
“Even as digital is becoming commonplace, it doesn’t work for everyone – losing in-person services in more places across the country is a big deal for many.”