MP John Healey has challenged the Chancellor to make good on a promise to protect cash machines and banks from closure.

The MP, alongside GMB Union, is pressuring the Government to deliver on its pledge to bring forward new legislation that would protect access to cash machines and bank branches.

Back in March, the Chancellor announced the UK Government would bring forward legislation to protect access to cash.

In a challenge to Rishi Sunak, John Healey has written to ask for the whereabouts of the promised new law, and for guarantees that there will be no more cash point closures.

The Covid-19 crisis has put the UK’s cash industry on a knife-edge with cash withdrawals halving during the lockdown. Ready access to cash will help people return to the shops, and boost trade on the high street.

According to figures compiled by GMB, between the end of 2017 and June 2020, the number of free-to-use cashpoints in Wentworth and Dearne has declined by a third (26) with all cashpoints in the constituency declining by a quarter (25). There was one, new, fee-charging cashpoint created in the period.

Over the last three years, John Healey has fought against the closure of local bank branches and cash machines, and worked in Labour’s shadow cabinet on the plan in the 2019 manifesto to revive high streets by stopping bank branch closures, banning ATM charges and giving local government new powers to put empty shops to good use.

GMB Union are campaigning for legislation that includes protections to guarantee:

• A legal right to pay for goods and services in cash.
• Free access to cash – free-to-use cashpoints and bank branches within a reasonable geographic distance.
• Availability of “cash back” from medium and large retailers.

John Healey MP said: “There’s a real risk that the UK is sleepwalking into a cashless society with the Covid-19 crisis rushing it along.

“Areas like ours have already seen every single bank branch close its doors – with no resistance from the government. Now the Chancellor is letting cash points disappear too, making it harder and harder for those who rely on cash to be able to get it.

“I am joining GMB’s call on the Government to take action to protect the industry and all those who will be hit hard by the removal by stealth of access to cash.”