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UK to Guarantee Access to Cash as Banks Shut Branches

UK to Guarantee Access to Cash as Banks Shut Branches

Thursday, 19 May, 2022 - 06:45
File Photo: The Financial Conduct Authority has fined Lloyds Bank £90 million for misleading letters, risking customers paying more for home insurance renewals. (Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images)

The UK government on Wednesday said it would legally guarantee access to cash as banks increasingly shut branches in the digital age.

"Millions of people across the UK will benefit from new legislation to protect access to cash," the Treasury said in a statement.

Under the legislation, the Financial Conduct Authority regulator "will be granted new powers" over Britain's biggest lenders to "ensure that cash withdrawal and deposit facilities are available in communities across the country".

The Treasury did not say how the guarantee to access to cash would be achieved.

Noting that vulnerable groups in particular still relied on cash, Economic Secretary John Glen added:

"I want to make sure that people are still able to use cash as part of their daily lives, and it's crucial to ensure that no person nor community across the UK is left behind as we embrace a more digital world."

About 5.4 million adults in Britain rely on cash "to a very great or great extent in their daily lives", according to the Treasury.

But the closure of UK bank branches continues apace.

Lloyds on Wednesday announced plans to shut 28 branches, two months after revealing it would permanently close 60 other sites.

It comes after customers increasingly switched to online banking amid the Covid pandemic.

British consumer group Which? predicts about 5,000 UK bank branches, around half the total, will have disappeared between 2015 and 2022, with Scotland worst affected.

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