16th October 2020

HM Treasury launches Call for Evidence for views on future of cash

John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, comments:

"As Economic Secretary to the Treasury, my focus on behalf of government continues to be on ensuring our financial services deliver for our economy, and above all for
the people and businesses they serve. Our world leading financial services sector is something the UK is rightly proud of, not only because of the traditional and
fundamental functions it provides domestically and internationally, but because of the pace and creativity with which we innovate.

The UK is one of the leading destinations globally to invest in FinTech, and we have led the way in Europe on the implementation of Open Banking standards. A notable
area of innovation in recent years has been payments; people are increasingly using cards, mobile, and electronic wallets to make payments, and there have also been improvements to traditional payments methods such as the implementation of
cheque imaging. Progress is good, and the government will continue to work to create an environment where innovative firms can grow and compete to create solutions that deliver positive outcomes for financial services customers.

However, progress can also risk leaving people behind, and in the case of financial services, exclusion from banking services can have a detrimental impact on people’s lives. Whilst card payments and other payments services are becoming increasingly popular, the evidence shows that a significant proportion of the UK population continues to rely on cash in their day to day lives. Cash can provide certain advantages, for example it is used by some vulnerable people to help budget their finances. Whilst it is too early to judge the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on cash usage, it is clear that it has had both a significant impact in the short term, and that it will likely accelerate the trend of declining cash usage over the medium to long term. All this serves to heighten the risks to those that continue to rely on cash.

The government is committed to ensuring those people and businesses don’t get left behind, which is why it announced it will bring forward legislation to maintain access to cash at Budget 2020. Since then, the government has been working at pace to develop legislation, alongside managing the immediate impacts on the cash system from COVID-19, via close engagement with regulators and industry. Access to cash is a complicated issue that affects all parts of the economy. I am therefore pleased to introduce this Call of Evidence, which will ensure anyone that wishes to have their views heard on the future of cash access, and the government’s approach to legislation, will have the opportunity to do so. Responses to this call for evidence
will directly support and inform the development of the government’s legislation, and I look forward to reviewing the responses."

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