Pilot initiative launches to support communities’ access to cash needs

  • The UK payments landscape is changing dramatically, with only 1 in 10 transactions projected to be made in cash within the next decade
  • However, not everyone is ready for the shift to digital payments – 17 per cent of adults still rely on cash, many of them from vulnerable groups
  • The Community Access to Cash Pilots initiative is being launched to help communities trial solutions to this problem
  • This is an independent scheme, chaired by Natalie Ceeney CBE, author of the 2019 Access to Cash Review

A new independent initiative is being launched today to help communities retain free access to cash as the UK shifts to an increasingly cashless society. Communities across the country are encouraged to apply to participate in the new Community Access to Cash Pilots which will help to test solutions to local access to cash needs, with the goal of developing scalable solutions which can inform national policy.

The Chair of the Community Access to Cash Pilots Board, Natalie Ceeney CBE, is asking for communities to volunteer to take part in the pilots. Successful applicants will work alongside the payments and customer experts to develop solutions that will help them to adapt to the changing payments landscape.

Solutions will be developed by and with local communities, to meet local needs. The aim is to create new approaches to current challenges, which include helping local shops to give cashback, supporting groups to become more comfortable making digital payments or developing solutions to help small businesses continue to bank cash.

The launch of the pilots follows the publication of the 2019 Access to Cash Review, which found that 17 per cent of the UK population rely on cash, with vulnerable communities, including the poor and those in rural areas, at particular risk from reduced access to cash.

The Community Access to Cash Pilots is one of many steps being taken in response to the findings of the Access to Cash Review and aims to address the recommendation that communities are helped to prepare for the changing payments landscape. The independent initiative has been developed in partnership with the banking and finance industry, which is providing investment support.

Natalie Ceeney CBE, Chair of the Community Access to Cash Pilots Board, said:

“I am delighted to Chair this independent initiative. With the UK becoming an increasingly cashless society we need to make sure that digital payments work for everyone, but we also need to support communities who rely on cash, so that no-one gets left behind.

“We are very keen to hear from local communities and work with them to identify solutions, acting as a test bed for the type of measures that could be rolled out more widely. This is an important part of the wider work to ensure communities around the UK retain access to cash where it is most needed.”

The launch of the Community Access to Cash Pilots comes at a time where payments are drastically changing in the UK. UK Finance has forecasted that within a decade only 1 in 10 payments will be made in cash. The pilots are one of several initiatives being implemented by the banking and finance sector to address the impact of this change