The Times and other media outlets didn’t quite fathom the depth of this well-constructed story from HM Treasury.
They are not to blame. The tale spun is opaque, to say the least.
Banks have NOT been told to “offer free cash machine” within one mile in urban areas and three miles in rural areas.
In fact, the words cash machine or ATM are nowhere to be found in the HM Treasury “Cash Access Policy Statement” published with a fanfare of trumpets on 18 August.
You may think that odd because ATMs continue to meet over 90% of the cash requirements of the British public.
But not in future, it appears.
A limited-hours post office counter service or even cash-back at a small shop may satisfy HM Treasury and the meek and mild Financial Conduct Authority as far as “reasonable” cash access is concerned.
So Andrew Griffith MP saying the British public and businesses “won’t have to trek miles” for cash access could be felt to be disingenuous.
The banks can still close their bank branches and remove 24 hour ATMs.
In their place, the British public will it seems often be offered a limited-hour post office counter service or free cash-back from a shop.
Forget 24 hour cash services via ATMs. There will be fewer and fewer of those. Thousands more will be lost, even though the value of cash the public are withdrawing from the machines is at 70% plus of pre-pandemic levels.
HM Treasury is seemingly content to make cash a destination “purchase”, meaning that it won’t be conveniently available 24 hours a day on most town centre streets. The public will in many cases be required to make a special journey to get cash.
The measures in the HM Treasury statement in fact seem designed to push the public towards accepting a “cashless” future.
The absence of measures from the HM Treasury on cash acceptance underlines their preferred direction of travel.
YouGov in June revealed that 71% of British adults want a law to make acceptance of cash by businesses compulsory.
The HM Treasury are it seems trying to ignore the wishes of 40 million voters, which is extremely cavalier with a General Election fast approaching.