The National Rural Conference 2024

The Rural Services Network (RSN) is thrilled to announce the National Rural Conference 2024, taking place from 16th to 19th September. This virtual event, accessible via Zoom, is the premier gathering for senior officers, members, policymakers, and rural service professionals.
Further information and booking details can be found here

Government promises free access to cash to be protected “particularly” for those living in rural areas

A new policy is to be introduced which will ensure that the ‘vast majority of people and businesses’ will be no further than three miles away from a place where they can withdraw cash.

In a statement, the government set out the minimum expectations on banks to provide access to cash including distance to travel and free withdrawals. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has also been given new powers to ensure these expectations are met and the ability to issues fines if they are not.

According to government figures, the “vast majority of people living in urban areas can access cash deposit and withdrawal services within one mile; with rural-dwellers around three miles away.”  The announcement also clarified that the FCA should “use its powers to maintain this level of coverage, while recognising that needs may differ by location and change over time.”  It also stated that “if a service is withdrawn and a replacement service is needed – this should be put in place before the closure takes place.”  The policy statement also sets out that the FCA should “consider factors such as the opening hours and distance to cash access services, as well as the need for in-person assistance.”

Commenting on the statement, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Griffith, said:

“Whilst the growing choice and convenience of digital payments is great, cash has an important and continuing role to play. That’s why we are taking action to protect access to cash in law and laying out that this means fee-free withdrawals and the availability of cash facilities within a reasonable distance.

“People shouldn’t have to trek for hours to withdraw a tenner to put in someone’s birthday card – nor should businesses have to travel large distances to deposit cash takings.

“These are measures which benefit everyone who uses cash but particularly those living in rural areas, the elderly and those with disabilities.”

However, the Chief Executive of RSN, Kerry Booth, says the experience of RSN members and the communities they serve is very different:

“Anecdotally, we know that some people in rural areas are travelling a lot further than 3 miles already to access cash.  Whilst these new rules may go some way to preventing this in the future, what about the rural communities already struggling?  RSN has put this to HM Treasury and I look forward to the response.

“We know that our rural communities tend to be older, with official population projections showing that is expected to rise to just over 30% by the year 2043.  According to The Cash Census Report by Link, it is this demographic that has a strong preference for cash.  Once again, we’re asking the government to really consider the needs of rural and offer a solution which is tailored to the needs of these communities.”

You can read the full Cash Access Policy Statement here and if you would like to share the experiences of your own communities with us, please email


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