Juliet Casciano from Deal has been highlighting the difficulties people have in making cash payments. A keen tennis player, Juliet was unable to use cash at Tides Leisure Centre in Deal to pay for a booking. I’ve been backing Juliet’s campaign to ensure that people are able to pay in cash when shopping – or visiting outlets like Tides.
This matters because people want to have the choice. Indeed, the use of cash has been increasing over the past year. In January Nationwide Building Society reported that people paying in cash had increased for the first time in 13 years. The building society put this down to people managing their budgets more carefully with cost of living pressures. Nationwide also reported an increase in cash deposits being paid in through its ATM terminals – up 37% in five years, and a 100% increase since 2014.
I am campaigning for people to have the choice to use cash. Nationally and locally and this has three parts. First, to be able to get cash out of the bank, building society, post office or supermarket without incurring transaction charges. Second, to be allowed to make cash payments for goods and services. Thirdly, to ensure businesses, especially smaller businesses, do not suffer penalties when making deposits of cash into their business bank accounts.
In my working life there have been many changes to our monetary systems – from the end of the £1 note to the decline of cash usage predicted over the next decade. The introduction of contactless pay and the everyday use for many of the tap of their Apple or other mobile phone has changed things a lot. The pandemic saw an abrupt stop in cash being accepted at many places. This creates problems for many people who rely on cash to make payments.
While there has been a big change in consumer preferences over recent years, I am a strong believer that choice must remain in the marketplace and that people who rely on cash as part of their lives aren’t excluded or disadvantaged. It is also vital that smaller businesses don’t suffer excessive charges for banking cash payments.
Older people are more likely to rely on cash, as are people on fixed incomes, benefits and many who are trying to budget carefully and save money. Access to local services, like our local leisure centres, mustn’t exclude people who are poorer or older from using them.
I am pleased that Dover District Council officers have responded promptly to Juliet’s predicament. It’s good news they are looking to find a resolution for her. I have asked the Chancellor to consider a new legal requirement to accept cash to pay for goods and services. We need a national strategy to make sure that cash remains king, and there is a real choice for consumers to be able to use it.