Financial Services and Markets Bill Debate

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Department: HM Treasury

Financial Services and Markets Bill

Ronnie Cowan Excerpts
2nd reading
Wednesday 7th September 2022

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ronnie Cowan Portrait Ronnie Cowan (Inverclyde) (SNP)
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I will not consume all my seven minutes. I shall try to give some time back to the House and allow others to speak. In any event, I am feeling absolutely lousy, and standing for more than three minutes may well prove to be a bit of a challenge.

The majority of people are using less cash. The technology which is available, and which we are encouraged to use, has seen cash acceptance and access to cash decline. For many people, including me, using a card or phone to pay for goods and services has become the norm. It is quick, it is convenient, it is practical—but it is not for everyone. As the cost of living has gone up, there is evidence that more people are turning to cash in order to budget. The Post Office reported record withdrawals in July 2022, and a survey commissioned by LINK has indicated that 10% of people are planning to use cash more to help them to budget.

We are not talking small numbers here: more than 5 million people in the UK are already relying on cash, and—quite disturbingly—55% of respondents to a survey of 500,000 people conducted by Cardtronics felt pushed towards cashlessness against their will. We need a sensible strategy that does not discriminate against cash users, who tend to be the elderly and the most impoverished in our society. The Government must provide clarity about the content of their access to cash policy statement. There is no reference to ensuring free access to cash, which is an absolute must. There are no baseline geographic distances applying to withdrawal and depositing facilities. When communities apply for such services, there is no feedback to explain why an application was unsuccessful. This process should be transparent and clear.

I urge the UK Government to make the consumer’s interests their priority, and to produce a Bill that safeguards existing cash users and ensures that firms have complied with their own regulatory obligations. Honestly, how hard can that be?