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Shoppers should never be more than a kilometre away from somewhere they can withdraw cash free of charge under proposed laws.

The plans outlined yesterday by the Treasury said people should not have to travel beyond a ‘reasonable distance’ to take out or deposit cash.

It comes as the use of coins and notes has plummeted in recent years, while more bank branches have closed.

The Treasury documents outlined how a minimum percentage of the population should not have to travel more than 1km (0.6mile) to withdraw cash free of charge.

However, this distance could be extended over time if coins and notes become less popular. 

But there was nothing in the plans to force banks to keep certain branches open.

Plans outlined yesterday by the Treasury said people should not have to travel beyond a ‘reasonable distance’ to take out or deposit cash free of charge

Plans outlined yesterday by the Treasury said people should not have to travel beyond a ‘reasonable distance’ to take out or deposit cash free of charge

Plans outlined yesterday by the Treasury said people should not have to travel beyond a ‘reasonable distance’ to take out or deposit cash free of charge

Instead, City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority could be tasked with making sure high street banks stick to new rules to protect cash.

Last year 17 per cent of payments were made with coins and notes, according to banking trade body UK Finance. 

It added that the decline of cash purchases was accelerated by businesses trying to reduce the spread of Covid.

And shoppers were encouraged to pay with their cards and smartphones. 

The hike of the contactless limit from £30 to £45 in April last year also made these methods more popular, and one in four payments were made this way last year.

Last year, just 17 per cent of payments were made with coins and notes, according to banking trade body UK Finance. [Stock image]

Last year, just 17 per cent of payments were made with coins and notes, according to banking trade body UK Finance. [Stock image]

Last year, just 17 per cent of payments were made with coins and notes, according to banking trade body UK Finance. [Stock image]

Yet research commissioned by the Bank of England found that the risk of catching the virus from notes was low.

More than 4,000 bank branches have closed in the last six years, according to consumer group Which? Campaigners have been calling for laws to be introduced as quickly as possible to preserve cash for those who depend on it. 

The Daily Mail has long campaigned against the closures of bank branches and free cash machines.

A report by Age UK last month revealed that 2.4million people aged 65 and over relied on cash in their daily lives.

It said people should have the same guaranteed access to cash as they do with water.

Natalie Ceeney, chairman of the Access to Cash Review, said last night: ‘Legislation to protect access to cash is vital. 

‘There are still a lot of people who rely on cash and they tend to be the oldest, the poorest and most vulnerable in society.’

Consultation on the proposals ends on September 23.

Source: Daily Mail UK

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