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Community Access to Cash Pilots goes live in Rochford

29 Apr Community Access to Cash Pilots goes live in Rochford

The Community Access to Cash Pilots (CACP) are today fully operational with 85 organisations working across eight locations to help test solutions that will keep cash supported in local communities including one in Rochford.

For the first time we have created a new model for high-street banking in the form of brand new Post Office Bank Hubs, live in Rochford and in Cambuslang (Lanarkshire).

The hubs have been set up on the local high street in dedicated retail spaces to exclusively support customers for their cash and other financial transactions. They will offer access to basic banking and cash withdrawals and deposits through a counter operated by the Post Office, which will support the customers of all major retail banks. The bank hubs will also provide access to face-to-face community banking services, provided by those banks which have the most customers in each area. These services will support the customers of all of the major banks, and allow the privacy and security people expect in a bank branch.

Nine pilots were chosen last year based on their location, the issues the communities faced, and the local people willing to lead the pilots. The locations are: (England) Botton Village (North Yorkshire), Burslem (Staffordshire), Lulworth Camp (Dorset), Rochford (Essex), (Northern Ireland) Millisle (County Down), (Scotland) Cambuslang (South Lanarkshire), Denny (Falkirk), (Wales) Hay-on-Wye (Breconshire). As the community were unable to find an appropriate site for the banking hub in Ampthill (Bedfordshire), this location is sadly no longer part of the pilot.

Each community is trialling a number of different solutions, based on meeting the needs of local communities. In Rochford, they are piloting:

A Post Office Banking Hub in a currently empty retail venue, comprising a bank-style counter service able to process transactions with privacy, as well as community banking support from the major banks, debt advice, and wider support for financial issues

An automated SME deposit facility in the Post Office Bank Hub

A new free-to-use ATM in the Post Office Bank Hub

Cashback with purchase offered by a large number of local stores

Digital education services to help those who want to access digital banking services

A digital solution to coin recycling supported by Shrap – an innovative new service which allows consumers to store change on a card or app, saving retailers from managing small change and helping consumers consumers save their change
Widespread advertisement of what the banks can offer vulnerable customers

Several of the services, including the new free to use ATMs and the cashback-without-purchase trials have been operational for several months. However, lockdown restrictions have led to delays on certain elements of the pilots going live and as many non-essential shops and leisure sites have been closed. As the economy reopens, we hope that these pilots will help consumers and small businesses alike keep cash viable for the many who need it.

These pilots operate in a wider context of a UK-wide cash infrastructure under threat, millions dependent on cash, and a government commitment to legislate to protect cash access. Recent research from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) shows that during the pandemic, 15% of UK adults struggled to cope without access to bank branches and ATMs, while 16% suffered as more businesses stopped or encouraged customers to use contactless or digital payments. FCA research suggests that 5 million people remain dependent on cash.

The aim of these pilots is to trial solutions which could have wider applicability across the UK. The pilots will run until October 2021 and then will report back their findings.

CACP is chaired by Natalie Ceeney CBE, the author of the Access to Cash Review and brings together the resources and expertise of the financial services industry (including all of the major retail banks) with those of the Access to Cash Review panel. The team is also working closely with a wide range of local and national consumer groups and charities to bring in-depth expertise to help support the work.