The government has vowed to protect access to cash

Philip Hammond has U-turned on the decision to scrap 1p and 2p coins while 3,500 rural cash machines will also receive special protection

The government has announced it will honour the recommendations made in the Access to Cash Review to ensure vulnerable Brits aren’t left behind by the cashless revolution.

Philip Hammond confirmed on Friday that there will be no change to the current coins and notes – despite previously calling 1p and 2p coins “obsolete” in his 2018 Spring Statement – with all denominations set to stay for “years to come”.

The Chancellor also pledged to protect rural 3,500 cash machines and announced that a new Joint Authorities Cash Strategy Group (JACS), chaired by the Treasury, will be created to co-ordinate work to safeguard cash.

“Technology has transformed banking for millions of people, making it easier and quicker to carry out financial transactions and pay for services,” said Hammond.

“But it’s also clear that many people still rely on cash and I want the public to have choice over how they spend their money.

“I’m also setting up a group which brings together the Treasury, Bank of England and the regulators to safeguard the future of cash and ensure its availability for years to come.”

DID YOU KNOW…

The Big Issue magazine is a social enterprise, a business that reinvests its profits in helping others who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or whose lives are blighted by poverty.

Today’s announcement comes in the wake of the Access to Cash Review, a report that warned Britain was “sleepwalking into a cashless society” in December.

It found that eight million people still use cash and would be left financially excluded if coins and notes were eliminated entirely, despite cash use halving in the last 10 years.

Natalie Ceeney CBE, the Access to Cash review chair, said: “If we sleepwalk into a cashless society, millions of people will be left behind. I’m delighted to see the government taking a leadership role on this critical issue – and look forward to seeing action as a result.”

It’s not just about keeping coins and notes in circulation too, LINK – the UK’s largest cash machine network – has committed to replace closed ATMs in rural or remote areas when there is no free ATM within 1 kilometre or Post Office branch available.

Nicky Morgan, Treasury Committee chair said: “Any significant reduction in access to cash is unacceptable. The new JACS Group is a welcome step, but the government must ensure that it implements the Access to Cash Review’s recommendations urgently, and in full, to protect access to cash.”

The Big issue is well aware of how financial exclusion impacts on our vendors.

All our sellers still sell the magazine for cash and the loss of smaller denominations like the 1p and 2p coins would have had a marked impact on them.

But we also know that the demand for cashless options is ever-increasing and that is why we are working with iZettle to trial contactless payments for vendors across the UK.

The Pay It Forward scheme is also helping vendors to earn cashlessly by offering readers a chance to resell the magazine to a friend just by scanning a QR code.