I am concerned that the shift towards contactless and chip & pin payments, hastened by COVID-19, is disadvantaging older and vulnerable people locally who still use cash.
Cash is a vital payment method for businesses and residents in St Helens North, as it is for 18 million people who regularly rely on it across the UK. Yet, one in ten have recently had cash refused in stores and ATM transactions dropped by nearly two thirds during lockdown. On top of this, 25% of free ATMs in our constituency have closed since 2018.
Increasing contactless and online payments during the pandemic has been understandable, but the Government must have credible plans in place to protect access to cash – especially free ATMs – and the ability to spend it, particularly for those living in deprived, remote or rural communities where alternative banking services are tougher to access.
This crisis has already impacted some of the most vulnerable people in our society. We mustn’t let them fall further behind.