We recently received the encouraging news that the government will be consulting on new legislation to ensure better access to cash, including bank branches and ATMs.
While half the UK population (53%) now don’t need cash and benefit from the convenience that comes from phones, internet, and cards, for the other half (47%) the decline in shops and restaurants accepting cash is at least problematic and furthermore for 1 in 6 people it presents serious disadvantages.
The issues are:
- Limited access to technology: Many rural areas have poor broadband; only 1 in 20 older people can make mobile payments
- Loss of Infrastructure: Banks & ATMs disappearing from the high street, rural areas and poor communities suffering further losses
- 1.3m people in the UK have no bank account and 1 in 25 are still paid in cash. This predominantly affects the poorest among us.
In short; context matters. In poorer communities many shops require cash; people with low incomes are sometimes advised to use cash to help budgeting; and people with a history of using cash manage better with it as do some people with mental health challenges.
We also know that older people are more vulnerable to fraud and scams and that the consequences can be so much more serious if its online—for advice and resources to help deal with Scams and Frauds, click here.
This is another example of where a good development for the majority can disadvantage vulnerable older people who need support and assistance to navigate the changing landscape – the kind of assistance that church champions can and do provide.
Looking out for the vulnerable is fundamental to the Christian faith (Isaiah 1:17 and others) pointing towards the way that God looks out for people who have no merit other than trusting in Jesus as Isaiah 55 says “come all who are thirsty….buy milk and wine without money” a metaphor for God’s saving work and provision for people who have nothing.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a Christian helping an older person access cash could help someone find Jesus – the most precious gift that cannot be bought
Stephen Hammersley CBE
CEO of Pilgrims’ Friend Society