The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed the publication of the final Access to Cash Review, calling on the Government to ensure that consumer’s access to cash is protected in the future.

The review notes that while the UK’s cash use is in decline, it is still a long way away from becoming a cashless society as millions of people still rely on cash on a daily basis.

The review found that 17% of the UK population (eight million adults) would struggle to cope in a cashless society, while 97% of the population still carry cash on them.

One of the areas that the review considers is consumers’ access to cash through ATMs. The review found that more than 90% of cash is accessed via ATMs, but that the number of withdrawals is down 5% in 2018 compared to 2017.

ACS has frequently raised concerns about the impact of Link cutting the interchange fee for ATM operators, which is leading to some machines being removed from convenience stores and others being moved to a less popular charging model.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “This timely and welcome review makes clear that people still rely on cash every day and will do for years to come.

“Local shops play a crucial role in providing free access to cash for local customers through a network of cash machines, but this is under threat right now as a result of Link cutting the payments to cash machine operators. Access to cash must be protected in the future, especially in rural and isolated areas where thousands of people risk being cut off completely.”

The review makes the following recommendations to ensure that access to cash is protected in future:

• guarantee access to cash;

• ensure cash remains widely accepted;

• create a more efficient, effective and resilient wholesale cash infrastructure;

• make digital payments an option for everyone; and

• ensure joined-up oversight and regulation of cash.