Female Pensioner Putting coins in Purse

Millions ‘at risk of being cut off’ as cash usage wanes

As the drive to digital continues, those who rely on cash in their day-to-day lives are taking the hit

Many of us are at risk of being cut off from society because of the decline of cash, charity Age UK has found.

Those aged over 65 are especially vulnerable, the charity said, as the drive towards digital leaves fewer bank branches and ATMs on our streets.

But even before the pandemic, many of us still depended heavily on cash in our day-to-day lives  – around 2.4 million older people in fact, the Financial Lives 2020 Survey found.

And even during the national lockdown back in January this year more than half of older people (6.3 million people) had used cash in the previous week, despite many of them shielding, a YouGov survey found at the time.

What’s more, even those of us who don’t fall into the over-65s category are still using cash regularly – the figures showed nearly two thirds of under-65s had used notes and coins at some point in the last month.

Being able to use cash can help us to budget more effectively, pay back carers or friends who shop for us, and acts as a back-up if we’re not online or struggle to work phones or bank cards.

But as the use of cash declines, so too does the opportunity to use it, said Age UK. Fewer ATMs leads to more shops refusing to accept cash and creates a vicious cycle for those depending on it.

Cash machine numbers fell by 24 per cent between 2017 and 2020, and as ATMs disappear those of us who struggle to get around because of age or disability find it harder to access cash. 

So Age UK wants the government to ensure banks guarantee access to cash for everyone. It would be similar to arrangements in place already for other essentials like water, electricity, mail and broadband.

Age UK director Caroline Abrahams said: “If the government is serious about ‘building back better’ after the pandemic, then they must legislate to protect cash access within a reasonable travel distance of people’s homes.”For help with budgeting visit our website

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