Government will not force shops to take cash, Rishi Sunak confirms

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Rishi Sunak will not force shopkeepers to offer customers the option to pay with cash, he confirmed on Wednesday.

The prime minister said it is not “appropriate” for the government to “impose on individuals how they should do business”.

But Mr Sunak insisted ministers are committed to ensuring people have access to cash themselves.

He highlighted laws he introduced as chancellor, which have now passed, ensuring people are no more than three miles from access to free cash.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been given the power to fine or compel banks to offer free cash to people.

Asked by GB News whether people should have a legal right to access cash, Mr Sunak said: “I understand how important it is.

“Of course we are transitioning and using more electronic money and doing more things online.

“But cash is important to people, particularly in rural communities like the one I represent.”

But pressed on whether customers in shops should have a legal right to pay with cash, the PM said “it is a different thing for the government to start imposing on individual businesses”.

“I don’t think that’s appropriate. But what we can do is regulate the financial services industry so that people do have access to cash themselves,” Mr Sunak said.

City minister Andrew Griffith said this month “cash has an important and continuing role to play”.

“That’s why we are taking action to protect access to cash in law and laying out that this means fee-free withdrawals and the availability of cash facilities within a reasonable distance,” he added.

Mr Griffith said: “People shouldn’t have to trek for hours to withdraw a tenner to put in someone’s birthday card – nor should businesses have to travel large distances to deposit cash takings.

“These are measures which benefit everyone who uses cash but particularly those living in rural areas, the elderly and those with disabilities.”

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