With many bank branches closing and fewer free to use ATMs to be seen on the high-street, I met with representatives from consumer groups, small businesses, banks, and fintech providers to discuss the greater action needed to respond to financial exclusion. While many are choosing to manage their money online, I know that many of my vulnerable constituents, including the elderly and those in digital poverty, are still reliant on cash.
In the meeting, I highlighted those 5 million UK consumers, including some of the most vulnerable in our society, who continue to rely on cash. I also raised that for many cash is the preferred method of payment for a range of reasons, including because it is cheaper, ensures privacy and is easier to manage. I know that many of my constituents also want to have the option of paying with cash without having to go through unnecessary burdens – such as travelling a long way to the nearest ATM.
The access to cash debate, and its impact on worsening financial exclusion is an important one and must be prioritised, especially as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite. I will ensure that I continue to act as a voice for the most vulnerable in my work as Shadow City Minister and that access to cash is prioritised and protected as financial services continue to innovate and expand.