New initiative looking at how to keep cash flowing in communities across the UK

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Eight locations across the UK, including Hay-on-Wye in Powys, have been selected to take part in an initial pilot aimed at addressing issues around access to cash against a backdrop of increasing bank branch closures.

The Community Access to Cash Pilot (CACP) will see local communities  working with the banking industry to identify sustainable solutions to keeping cash viable for individuals and businesses.

This will include supporting local firms to accept and bank cash.  It will also working with local councils to ensure that the right infrastructure is in place, alongside education and support on digital inclusion, as well as working with new and existing financial services providers to create what it described as “innovative solutions” to meet needs.

The communities which successfully bid to be part of the initial pilot are:

Ampthill (Bedforshire)

Burslem (Staffordshire)

Botton Village (North Yorkshire)

Cambuslang (South Lanarkshire, Scotland)

Denny (Falkirk, Scotland)

Hay-on-Wye (Powys, Wales) 

Lulworth (Dorset) 

Rochford (Essex) 

A small number of further locations will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

The local leaders of the Hay pilot are keen to explore a wide range of solutions to support their needs, including both a traditional cash access/deposit infrastructure, as well as supporting greater digital inclusion.

The town has a large number of independent retailers, and while its internationally renounced book festival was conducted virtually this year, it does attract a large number of visitors needing cash access.

CACP is chaired by Natalie Ceeney, the author of the  Access to Cash Review  and brings together the resources and expertise of the financial services industry with those of the Access to Review panel.

The panel will also work closely with a wide range of consumer groups and charities to bring in depth expertise to help support the work

Ms Ceeney said: “Over the past decade we’ve seen a massive shift from cash to digital payments, and Covid-19 has accelerated that trend further. However, we know that digital payments don’t yet work for everyone, and for many individuals and communities, cash remains essential.

“But the world is changing – we can’t just magic back our old bank branch and ATM infrastructure. Instead, we need to use innovation to develop new solutions as well as harness tried and tested approaches to meet people’s needs. 

“We’ve selected communities which all have a cash need, but which face different challenges.  Some locations may need an ATM or a place for retailers to deposit cash locally, others may look for a shared bank branch or a means to improve digital skills

“Our aim is both to support communities right now, and also to learn lessons for sustainable solutions which can be used more widely across the UK, particularly as the government considers legislation to support the cash infrastructure.”

The Welsh Government is committed to creating a new publicly-owned bank in Wales.

However, to get the project off the ground it would need to secure millions in investment to get through the regulatory approval process and have the necessary reserves in place under Basel III, the international regulatory framework for banks.

The Welsh Government has provided and agreed seed funding of £165,000 to start-up company Cambria Cydfuddiannol Ltd (known as Banc Cambria), to support the development of a mutual status community bank for Wales, with consumer and business customers and a network of branches.

The Welsh Government did not procure the contract. It said, in response to a freedom of information request: “The proposal is not subject to procurement regulations as it is regarded as an outcome based intervention and assistance with a start-up for people and companies in communities across Wales.

“The purpose of the funding was to enable the completion of stakeholder engagement, project plan, initial market assessment and feasibility study required to ascertain the viability for the establishment of a Community Bank in Wales.”

It said the funding has been provided to ascertain the viability of the establishment of a community bank, through the carrying out of stakeholder engagement, a project plan and an initial market assessment and feasibility study.


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