A Stoke-on-Trent town has been chosen to take part in an initiative aiming to improve residents access to cash.
In May Stoke-on-Trent North MP Jonathan Gullis sent an application to UK Finance, in the hopes the city could be part of their Access to Cash Pilot.
Earlier this week it was announced that Burslem had been successful with its application.
The pilot follows the recent report from UK Finance showing cash use now represents less than one-quarter (23%) of all payments in the UK, a fifteen percent drop year-on year.
These numbers were taken before the Coronavirus Crisis with LINK, the UK’s main cash machine network, showing a 60% year-on-year fall in volumes during the early part of the lockdown.
The aim is to test solutions to local access to cash needs, with the goal of developing scalable solutions which can inform national policy.
Solutions will be developed by and with local communities, to meet local needs.
The purpose is to create new approaches to current challenges, which include helping local shops to give cashback, supporting groups to become more comfortable making digital payments or developing solutions to help small businesses continue to bank cash.
Jonathan said “Stoke-on-Trent is the perfect place for this pilot, as accessing cash is quite difficult.
"At the end of 2019, roughly 1 free-to-use ATM per 5000 adults in Stoke, compared with a national average of 1 free-to-use ATM per 1100 adults.”
UK Finance have set up a board of individuals, chaired by Natalie Ceeney CBE, with funding of up to £1 million pounds, split between those communities chosen to take part.
Now Burslem has been chosen, members of the board will visit to decide which solution provider would be the best fit for the needs of the community, this is then rolled out as a pilot scheme.
The UK government has already committed to introduce legislation to support the cash infrastructure, so the aim is that these pilots can inform longer term government action, as well as support local communities right now.
The application has had massive community support within Stoke-on-Trent, with local Councillors, the Financial Inclusion Group, including Citizens Advice, YMCA, Emaus Potteries and many more, alongside the Stoke-on-Trent Business Alliance, The Federation of Small Businesses and local businesses in Stoke-on-Trent.
Jonathan also said “the amount of local support this application has received shows how high demand is for cash today.
"I look forward to working with Access to Cash, local businesses and residents to help secure some long term solutions that will help rebuild our high street once again.”