This is COPAs response to the UK Parliament’s Welsh Affairs Committee Call for Evidence on Access to Cash:


  1. Cymru Older Peoples Alliance (COPA) is a small charity funded by Welsh Government to act as the “national Voice” for local 50+ Forums and Groups across Wales. The problems created by reducing access to cash and its use has been raised on a regular basis by our members over the last 5 years.


  • There is a range of good evidence about the detrimental impacts on the lives of older people caused by the barriers to access cash. The main relevant points to make from this evidence that should be taken into account are:
  • Around 200,000 people in Wales are still reliant on cash, with the elderly, vulnerable and those in rural communities likely to be hardest hit by a decline in access to it.
  • Research showed that 78% of Welsh people used cash frequently – at least 1-2 times a week.
  • Bank closures have significantly restricted access to ATMs or any other free cash withdrawal facilities.
  • The decline in free-to-use (FTU) ATMs has had a disproportionate impact on the older and most vulnerable in Wales, including those who need regular small cash amounts for budgeting.
  • Deprived areas are losing free cash machines at a much faster rate than affluent areas.
  • Poor and unreliable transport exacerbated the problems of visiting the bank, particularly in rural areas and for the 1 in 5 adults in Wales who do not have access to a car.
  • The closure of over 200 banks in Wales is having a detrimental impact on older people to access their personal finances, access cash, manage their bank account and make transactions.
  • Digital exclusion and reliance on Smart Phones and Apps for Banking is discriminating against a third of older people, particularly those over 75, who do not want, do not know how, or cannot afford to purchase digital equipment and internet access.
  • We are moving rapidly to a “no cash society” that is leaving many older people behind with declining opportunities to use cash.

Key Issues

  • Cymru Older Peoples Alliance (COPA) make the following recommendations to the Welsh Affairs Committee:
  • The UK Government should develop policies to protect the use of cash in society and take action to increase the obligations on businesses to accept cash as the “coin of the realm”.
  • The Welsh Government should use the powers it has to work with the financial services industry to promote the case for improved access to and use of cash. 
  • The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) should use its new powers arising from the Financial Services & Markets Act to ensure the option of using cash remains available at all times in the retail sector.
  • Local Authorities should be mandated to work with the banking sector and look to mitigate the impact of local bank closures including negotiating alternative local options.
  • The further development of Credit Unions and other not-for-profit models should be supported to improve access to, and use of cash by older people with low and moderate incomes.
  • The UK Government should ensure that in Wales, current and future banking provision is always available on a bilingual basis and takes account of the requirements of the Welsh Language Act.
  • The development of financial hubs with collaboration between High Street Banks must take account of the needs and requirements of older people in design and delivery of services and recognise the benefits of the “Grey Economy” to their businesses.
  • The banking sector in Wales should ensure that the needs of rural communities are addressed in the provision of services including for new Financial Hubs and a “Guarantee to Cash Access” is promoted in these circumstances in Wales. 
  • Those essential services that older people rely on should be mandated to ensure payment by cash is always available.
  • Digital exclusion of older people should be addressed in relation to access to cash and banking services, with barriers removed and no-digital options always made available.


  • Access to cash and banking services, present real difficulties in the lives of many older people in Wales, particularly those at the margins or in rural areas. We would want the Welsh Affairs Committee to recommend both a policy pathway and practical measures to mitigate these adverse impacts, as soon as possible.

Cymru Older Peoples Alliance, April 2024

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