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Local shops to offer cashback and Post Office opens ‘bank hubs’ in trials to improve access to cash

A pilot scheme in eight towns across the UK will test new ways to boost access to cash in local communities – with measures including local shops offering cashback, new 'bank hubs' in Post Offices and more free ATMs. And while it's a small-scale trial at the moment, if successful these measures could be rolled out more widely in future. 

Initially unveiled last year and backed by major banks, the independent Community Access to Cash Pilots (CACP) scheme aims to find "scalable solutions" to help keep cash available for those who need it most. Pilot services in the eight communities – including two new Post Office bank hubs which opened today – will run until the end of September.

It comes after the House of Lords Liaison Committee last week called for urgent action to protect access to cash, citing warnings from founder Martin Lewis over the risks of moving towards a cashless society. Recent research from the financial regulator has found some 5.4 million adults in the UK rely on cash to a great or very great extent in their day-to-day lives.

For help getting cash where you are, see this handy tool to find your nearest free ATM, plus our 2018 blog on little-known ways to bank at the Post Office (though note some of the details in it may not be fully up to date).

Post Office 'bank hubs' among the measures to be tested

While coronavirus lockdown restrictions have delayed certain elements of the pilots going live, the measures now being rolled out in order to boost access to cash include:

  • New Post Office 'bank hubs' on the high street. Two such hubs have opened today in Rochford, Essex and Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire. While most people can already withdraw and deposit cash and check their bank balance at a Post Office (see below), these new bank hubs go further by letting customers meet with staff from their own bank for face-to-face help.

    For example, in Rochford, the branch will be shared by five banks, each of which will serve customers on one day each week - NatWest on Monday, Lloyds on Tuesday, Santander on Wednesday, Barclays on Thursday and HSBC on Friday.

  • More widespread cashback from local stores, restaurants and pubs. In addition, cash withdrawals via PayPoint counters and new, app-based digital services are being tested in order to widen the options for people to get cash locally.

  • Automated cash deposit machines for small businesses. These mean retailers don't have to close to travel to a nearby town bank branch to deposit their takings, helping make cash more viable to use long-term. 

In addition, the scheme is testing the addition of more free ATMs and education services to help those who want to access digital banking.

The locations involved in the Community Access to Cash Pilots (CACP) schemes are:

  • in England, Botton Village (North Yorkshire), Burslem (Staffordshire), Lulworth Camp (Dorset), and Rochford (Essex)
  • in Scotland, Cambuslang (South Lanarkshire), and Denny (Falkirk)
  • in Wales, Hay-on-Wye (Breconshire)
  • in Northern Ireland, Millisle (County Down).

You can bank at the Post Office even if you don't live near one of the new hubs

It's worth noting that the Post Office – which has over 11,500 branches around the UK – already provides some essential banking services for almost everyone with a UK bank account. If you have a branch near you, you can just pop in and: 

  • Withdraw cash from your usual bank account using your card
  • Pay cash into your usual bank account using a card or paying-in slip (except if you bank with Nationwide)
  • Check your bank balance using your card
  • Deposit a cheque using a paying-in slip (except if you bank with Nationwide)

Before you go, check which banks and services are available at the Post Office you're heading to, to avoid a wasted trip.

Additional reporting by the Press Association

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