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MATT WARMAN MP: “GOVERNMENT SHOULD PLAN FOR THE END OF CASH”

Matt Warman MP has called on the Government to accelerate the positive trends in cashless transactions, but ensure that more vulnerable people are not left behind in an increasingly cashless world.

In a Westminster Hall debate he led on 22nd January, Matt opened saying, “It used to be said that cash is king, but in reality that is no longer the case. Politicians used to talk of the pound in your pocket, but today just three out of 10 transactions use cash, whether coins or notes; in 2008, it was six out of 10.”

Matt highlighted the Access to Cash report which estimated that just one in 10 transactions will use cash by 2033, and called for this progress to be sped up because, “there is clear evidence that the vast majority of people would be better off in a cashless world.”

He went on to note that “There are a whole host of reasons to promote cashless transactions, whether it is ensuring that people are at less risk of the crime that goes with cash or that businesses are at less risk of the increasingly expensive costs of handling cash.”

In the debate, Matt also highlighted the need to tackle perceptions which prevent people from going cashless, such as not trusting banks, or using cash to help with budgeting, as otherwise “we are at risk of ending up with two cultures: those who embrace a wholly digital way of living, and those who do not.” He called on the Minister to “help [vulnerable] groups to embrace a cashless economy with much greater enthusiasm.”

Responding to Matt’s points, Treasury Minister Robert Jenrick MP said, “The pace of technological change has never been faster and it will never seem so slow again as it continues to accelerate. Like my hon. Friend, we want the UK to be at the forefront of technological change, to embrace the opportunities and, as we have heard from the tenor of the debate, to ensure that that change works for as many people in society as possible.”

He outlined Government work with the FinTech sector to ensure that the UK remains a market leader in the field, and also its work to tackle economic crime, including on cyber-security and digital payments, which will help people feel more secure in making cashless transactions.

Closing, the Minister said, “We need to consider the impact of the increasingly digital world on society and our economy and find ways to overcome the challenges it presents. Cash use remains important, with more than one third of payments in the UK made in cash. However, like my hon. Friend the Member for Boston and Skegness, we want to guide the economy and the public through the undoubted and probably irreversible journey to a cashless society, and we want to ensure that the UK is at the forefront of new technology while protecting the most vulnerable in our society.”

After the debate, Matt commented, “Whether it is contactless cards or online shopping, our transactions are fast becoming increasing contactless, which is great news for improving security and decreasing opportunities for tax evasion. It should, however, always be the role of a responsible government to ensure that more vulnerable members of society are not left behind or penalised by changes such as these. That is why I called on Ministers to plan for, ultimately, the end of cash in the economy so that we can grasp the opportunities this brings, while assisting those who currently rely on cash to also reap the benefits. I am pleased that he shares this aim and I look forward to government progress in this area.”