Law protecting access to cash hailed as 'brilliant'
- Credit: PA/JOHNNIE WALKER
A proposed new law protecting people's access to cash has been hailed as "brilliant" by a Suffolk mayor.
The government announced new plans to ensure that places to withdraw and deposit cash continued to be easily available as part of the Queen's Speech.
It comes as the number of cash machines in Suffolk fell from 404 to 353 between January 2019 and March 2022.
Johnnie Walker, mayor of Eye, a market town where there have long been concerns over access to cash, said: "It's absolutely brilliant.
"In North Suffolk we have one of the largest concentrations of elderly people in the country and most older people like to use cash.
"It all fell apart when the bank closed [in September 2018]."
Since then people have had to rely on the Post Office and an ATM.
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Mr Walker said McColl's recent financial difficulties had caused fears to re-emerge as the Eye branch hosts the town's Post Office.
He added that good bus services were key to helping people access cash, explaining that bus services to Diss – around five miles away and where the nearest bank is located – were infrequent.
"There's a bus there at 10am, but you have to wait until about 1.30pm to come home," he said. "If you're elderly that's a lot of time to hang about – especially in the winter."
John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury, said: "We are reforming our financial services sector now we have left the EU to ensure it acts in the interests of communities and citizens, creating jobs, supporting businesses, and powering growth across all of the UK.
“We know that access to cash is still vital for many people, especially those in vulnerable groups. We promised we would protect it, and through this Bill we are delivering on that promise."
John Howells, chief executive of ATM network Link, welcomed the news saying ten million people still "rely" on cash.
He added: “A great deal of progress has been achieved by the banking industry over the past couple of years, in which Link has played a critical role.
"This is good news for any community in the future as we continue to protect access to cash services and we look forward to seeing the details of the Bill in due course.”