Missing £50bn in cash is ‘stashed’
It has recently been reported that the Bank of England is missing several billion pounds in notes and coins as many people decide to stash the cash during the pandemic.
This is normal behaviour as we all feel safer having some disposable cash in our pockets or purses when we feel uncertain. However, getting hold of that cash is getting more difficult – particularly if you don’t live in a major city. In many rural areas the only place to get hold of cash without charges is the post office and they don’t open on a Sunday for instance – so at a weekend it’s been estimated in joint research by the Financial Conduct Authority, the Payments System Regulator and Bristol University that in rural areas people have to hike a further kilometre to get hold of cash at weekends.
Even in normal circumstances people in London have to go about 300 meters to get cash whereas it’s about double that in rural areas and about 10% of people have to travel further for free cash access than they did in 2018. I know that we’re moving gradually to a cash free society but I don’t think the authorities understand how physical cash gives us a sense of security and we need to hold onto as many cash outlets as possible.
There are proposals to make cash back available in supermarkets and other outlets without a purchase which would help as people have a right to hold cash if that helps them emotionally – however inconvenient that may be for the government.