Some 5.4 million Britons rely on cash but an increase in the number of card and online payments means that it is becoming increasingly difficult to spend cash on the high street.
Last week Prime Minister Rishi Sunak rejected a Tory MP’s call for shops and establishments to be mandated to accept cash payments.
He explained: “We know that cash continues to be used by millions of people, particularly those in vulnerable groups…but as technology and consumer behaviour changes, it is right that organisations themselves should be able to choose the forms of payment that they will accept.”
In her question to the Prime Minister, Newton Abbott MP Anne Marie Morris cited research by LINK, the UK’s largest cash machine network, which has found 45 percent of Britons have been somewhere where cash has not been accepted or discouraged.
This has sparked fears that the UK is heading towards a cashless society, a move that more than nine in 10 Express.co.uk readers are worried about, a new poll has shown.
In a poll that ran from 1pm on Thursday, June 22, to 3.15pm on Wednesday, June 28, Express.co.uk asked readers: “Are you worried about the UK becoming a cashless society?”
Overall, 1,006 votes were cast with the overwhelming majority of readers, 92 percent (922 people) answering “yes” they are worried, while eight percent (81 people) said “no” they are not. A further three people said they did not know.
In the comments left below the accompanying article, readers took part in a lively debate on the future of cash.
Many readers shared their fears about cash becoming less widely accepted, with username goodnessme remarking: “I find it quite appalling that shops and businesses refuse to accept the countries legal tender via cash payment.”
Username johnheppell agreed, writing: “It is wrong that businesses choose what means of payment they accept.”
Another reader, username fewwef said: “Anyone who welcomes this is not thinking straight. It is lethal, it means the Government and other agencies know all your business and there is nothing private. Why should we hand over this power to our Government. It should not be happening and people need to say no.”
Dennis Reed, director of Silver Voices over-60s campaign group has expressed concern at the impact of a cashless society on older Britons. He said: “We get regular reports from members that they are finding it difficult to access and spend cash. It’s another isolating factor for older people and it’s of great concern.”
Other readers were more welcoming about the UK heading towards a cashless society. Username SaraMay said: “Having everyone paying by card makes less work for shopkeepers and their staff.”
Some readers had made the change since the pandemic, with username twowords writing: “I’m still not using cash following Covid. It just doesn’t seem necessary!”
Likewise, username Bain said: “I don’t want to touch something that has remnants of other people’s faecal matter, sweat and urine on it. It’s 2023, why are we still sharing that stuff? Card or smartwatch is much better.”
The use of cash has continued to fall in recent years with just 15 percent of transactions being made with notes and coins in 2021. Card and digital payments are now the most popular among Britons.
Username P1947 shared their experience of living without cash, writing: “I’m 76 and because l was sick of people saying that old people wouldn’t manage in a cashless society, I took on the challenge. I have been 100 percent cashless for the past two years. Best thing I ever did — so easy.”