The Cashless Society and Community Facilities
Over the last few days we’ve seen a number of articles in the news regarding cash as a means for buying and whether it will survive the next ten years in the face of the growing “cashless society”. According to the Access to Cash Review, 8 million people in the UK rely on cash to manage their finances, as opposed to using cards or other electronic payments. The increasing “digitisation” of payment risks putting those people at a disadvantage, particularly when a number of our daily necessities such as tax, rent and supermarkets are going card-only.
This is a problem we may be sleep-walking into. I was genuinely surprised when I first found myself unable to purchase something in a local shop, having missed the “Card only” sign in the window. This could become an even greater problem as supermarkets begin trials of card-only shops.
Whilst this may cause inconvenience in urban areas, a more pressing concern, particularly in rural Wales, is the disappearance of banks from our high streets. A recent report by Which? found that 43% of banks in Wales have closed over the last few years, leaving some areas with only one or two branches to support large populations. Clwyd South constituency, which contains Chirk, Llangollen and Corwen now contains only one bank, as does Orgmore constituency.
This news comes at a trying time, when efforts are being made to slow the depopulation of rural Wales. Access to cash and banking services are vital for a thriving local economy, and for ensuring that everyone can access the facilities they need: public services, utilities, recreation etc. It’s also essential for sustaining our communities, including majority Welsh-speaking communities.
As roughly half of our membership cover rural areas of Wales, perhaps it’s time for us to start asking what social landlords will do to ensure that our rural communities continue to be able to access cash and be fully involved in the financial life of their area. This links into the wider agenda of community inclusion and tenant support.
What do you think? Do you have access to cash and/or banks in the area you live in? What steps would you like your landlord to take to ensure that you can be fully involved in your community?
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