Pivotal moment as banks, consumer groups, Post Office and LINK join forces to help protect cash services

  • UK banks agree to share services to ensure communities have fair access to cash

  • Communities cash needs to be independently assessed by LINK (which already fulfils this role for ATMs), with the power to commission services to meet community cash needs

  • Shared banking hubs to be rolled out alongside free ATMs, enhanced Post Office services, and cashback without purchase

A landmark agreement has been reached between the major retail banks to share services, ensuring long-term cash availability across the UK.

The collaboration, achieved through the Access to Cash Action Group (CAG) (all major retail banks, Age UK, Toynbee Hall and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)), marks the beginning of a long-term commitment to ensuring widespread cash and banking access for communities where services are limited.

Cash use has been in decline in recent years - a trend accelerated and exacerbated by the pandemic - with current use 35 per cent below pre-Covid-19 levels. However, millions of people across the UK still use cash daily. Banks and consumer groups alike recognise the need to ensure that consumers and small businesses who need cash can continue to withdraw and deposit it.

Under the new model, any community that faces the closure of a core cash service, such as a bank branch or ATM, will have its needs independently assessed by LINK. LINK will then determine whether a new solution should be provided to meet that community's cash needs. LINK, which already provides ATMs where communities need them, will commission services to meet the cash needs of the community as a whole - not just the customers or members of one bank or building society. Communities will also be able to request a review of their community's needs from the summer of 2022.

LINK has already assessed most communities where closures have taken place over the past year. As a result, we can announce now that the following new services will be provided in 2022, with announcements of further services to come in early 2022:

  • 11 free-to-use ATMs in Betchworth (Surrey), Bo?ness (West Lothian), Brentwood (Essex), Hugh Town (Isles of Scilly), Low Fell (Tyne and Wear), Merthyr Vale (Mid Glamorgan), Mosborough (South Yorkshire), Norwich (Norfolk), Putney (London), Woolhampton (Berkshire), and Woodbury (Devon).

  • Post Office is ready to deliver new and improved, dedicated cash services in up to 30 branches

  • Shared banking hubs in Acton (West London), Brixham (Devon), Carnoustie (Angus), Knaresborough (North Yorks) and Syston (Leicestershire) - building on the experience of the existing hubs piloted in Rochford, Essex and Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire

These new shared services will complement other industry initiatives to support cash and banking, such as cashback without purchase being rolled out to 2,000 retailers by the end of 2021, mobile branches and pop-up services, as well as services for people who need to make payments in their own homes.

The decision to create shared banking services follows regional pilots across eight UK communities. As part of this, shared banking hubs were piloted in Rochford, Essex and Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire. The full report of the pilots is also published today.

This work, of the Cash Action Group (CAG), was convened earlier this year by UK Finance and chair Natalie Ceeney CBE, author of the Access to Cash Review, and made up of senior representatives from across the financial services industry, leading consumer groups, FSB, LINK and the Post Office.


Natalie Ceeney CBE, Chair of CAG and the Community Access to Cash Pilots:

I'm delighted that the industry is today committing to ensuring that the cash needs of consumers and small businesses up and down the UK will continue to be met. We know that demand for cash is declining, but we also know that it continues to play a vital part in the lives of at least five million people in the UK - including some of the most vulnerable in society. The community pilots have shown that there are many different ways to meet people's cash needs. Informed by this experience, I'm confident that the new plan will lay the foundations for a positive future for cash access across the UK.

Caroline Abrahams CBE, Age UK:

This is arguably the most promising development we've yet seen in ensuring that older people can continue to access cash, which so many of them rely on as an essential part of their everyday lives. It's been great to be part of the Cash Action Group and we look forward to seeing the principles agreed by the Group translate into action across the country, and really starting to make a positive difference for many older people.

John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury:

Access to cash has ongoing importance to the daily lives of millions of people across the UK, and protecting it is a priority for myself and this Government. Following the Government's commitment to legislate, I am pleased to see firms working together to develop new initiatives to support continued access to cash. This is a great start, and I look forward to seeing the impact of industry's announcements for new and improved cash facilities in local communities across the UK.

David Postings, Chief Executive, UK Finance:

The banking and finance industry is committed to maintaining access to cash for people who need it, when they need it. UK Finance is delighted to have played a key role in the work, which has led to today's announcement of a collective commitment to meet the needs of both personal and business customers who rely on cash. With demand for cash projected to continue to decline, the way access to cash is provided will have to continue to evolve. This new approach, with an independent co-ordinating body at its heart, means that we now have a joined-up response to meeting communities' cash needs well into the future.

Nick Read, Group Chief Executive, Post Office:

The Post Office already plays a critical role in local communities, so we are very pleased to have partnered the banks in developing innovative solutions to meet community cash needs. I welcome today's announcement and the results of the Community Access to Cash Pilots. It is very positive that the Post Office and banks continue to work together effectively to deal with such a fundamental issue. We look forward to working with the industry to develop our offer further - providing vital cash access services for millions of people.


John Howells, Chief Executive, LINK:

Our relationship with cash is changing but the UK is not ready to be a cashless society and free access to cash remains vital for many consumers and communities. LINK is therefore delighted to take on such a key role working with the banks to ensure that the cash needs of communities continue to be met.


Area of expertise:

Notes to editor

  1. The Access to Cash Action Group is chaired by Natalie Ceeney CBE, supported by David Postings, CEO of UK Finance, as Deputy Chair. The group includes senior representatives from Barclays Bank UK PLC, HSBC UK Bank plc, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide Building Society, NatWest Group plc, Santander UK plc, and TSB Bank plc, Age UK, Toynbee Hall, Post Office Ltd and LINK.  From 1 January 2022, this will also include Danske Bank and Virgin Money UK.

  2. The following banking institutions have signed up to the new approach and will contribute to funding from 2022 onwards: Barclays Bank UK plc, Danske Bank, HSBC UK Bank plc, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide Building Society, NatWest Group plc, Santander UK plc, TSB Bank plc and Virgin Money UK.  A number of other firms are actively considering joining the initiative.

  3. New free-to-use ATMs will be provided in Betchworth (Surrey), Boness (West Lothian), Brentwood (Essex), Hugh Town (Isles of Scilly), Low Fell (Tyne and Wear), Merthyr Vale (Mid Glamorgan), Mosborough (South Yorkshire), Norwich (Norfolk), Putney (London), Woolhampton (Berkshire), and Woodbury (Devon).
  4. New shared services will complement other industry initiatives to support cash and banking, such as mobile branches and pop-up services, as well as services for people who need to make payments in their own homes. More details are available from individual financial institutions.

  5. The Community Access to Cash pilots set out to test which cash services meet the needs of consumers and small businesses in different communities. Banks and the Post Office tested a prototype shared banking hub, worked together to enhance local Post Office services, tested the role of three types of cashback and explored the potential of innovative new cash services such as coin recycling where change is given on a card or app instead of coins, with the balance available to spend at participating retailers. The pilots showed how different services can meet different cash needs and demonstrated the potential of applying this approach more widely across the UK.

  6. The UK Finance UK Cash and Cash Machines Report 2021 shows that in 2020,  cash was used to make 17 per cent of all payments (by volume) in the UK. Cash machines were by far the most common method of acquiring cash, accounting for 85 per cent of volume of all cash acquired in 2020, equating to 1,334 million cash withdrawals totalling £112 billion.  There were a further 104 million transactions acquiring cash using methods other than cash machines, such as cashback, counter withdrawals and cashing cheques.

  7. In November 2020 the University of Bristol, working in partnership with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) published a report which mapped how far people across the UK have to travel to access cash.

  8. In November 2020 LINK, the UK's main ATM cash machine network and PayPoint, the in-store payment services and ATM provider, launched a trial of cashback without purchase in 13 shops across Burslem in Staffordshire (England), Hay-on-Wye in Powys (Wales), Cambuslang in South Lanarkshire (Scotland) and Denny in Falkirk (Scotland). The Financial Services Act 2021 subsequently removed the need for a business wanting to offer a cashback service without purchase to be authorised or registered by the Financial Conduct Authority, allowing cashback without purchase to be rolled out nationally.

Media contact:

Adam Taylor