A campaign to stop cash disappearing from high streets and communities across the UK has been launched by the Post Office.
The Save Our Cash campaign is calling for the Government to bring forward legislation to ensure access to cash becomes a legal right, with a requirement on banks to ensure continued local access for those who need it.
About eight million adults have said they would struggle day-to-day without cash, while 1.4 million people do not even have a bank account and rely exclusively on cash to survive, the Post Office said.
More than half (55%) of cash-accepting small businesses deposit cash at least weekly and need somewhere convenient, reliable and secure to deposit their takings, it added.
The Post Office highlighted research from Which? showing that 4,188 bank branches have closed since the start of 2015.
The Government has already said it will legislate to protect the future of cash.
The new Post Office campaign – at saveourcash.co.uk – says there is an “urgent need” for legislation, to ensure that banks continue to ensure access to cash remains free at the point of service for both consumers and businesses.
The campaign will ask people to write to their MP to call on Government to bring forward legislation.
The Post Office has an agreement with many UK banks, building societies and credit unions to ensure people can access everyday banking services over its counters.
But the agreement is inherently fragile since it relies on the goodwill of each participating bank, the Post Office said.
It believes banks should be under an obligation to ensure their customers can continue to access their own accounts, free of charge, somewhere local to them.
Retail banks should have a legal obligation to provide access to cash withdrawal services free at the point of service for both consumers and businesses who rely on cash for their everyday lives, covering both notes and coins, it said.
It also said an industry fund, administered centrally, should be set up to support the “levelling up” of solutions for communities without appropriate cash services.
Nick Read, chief executive of the Post Office said: “Continued access to cash is not a luxury for millions of people and businesses across the country: it is an absolute necessity for their way of life.
“For them cash provides safety, security and even survival, which is why legislation is now needed to place an obligation on the banks, whose own customers’ interests we are concerned with.
“We firmly believe working in partnership with the banks is pivotal to building a secure and sustainable cash system and ensuring financial inclusion.
“But the current cash infrastructure is fragile and we need the industry to fully commit to meeting its service obligations, supported by appropriate legislation that ultimately ensures we Save Our Cash.”
A UK Finance spokesman said: “The banking and finance industry is committed to making sure there is access to cash for those who need it as we recognise that cash is still an important way to pay for many.
“It is fantastic news that the Government have moved swiftly to allow cashback without purchase which, alongside other initiatives, will help customers who might be less confident using other types of payments.
“In addition, the independent Community Access to Cash Pilots have recently been launched which are supported by the major banks, consumer and SME groups, the Post Office, and Link.
“The pilots are supporting eight communities across the UK to trial and test different ways to allow people access to cash and this work will ensure that access to cash needs are addressed both now and in the future.”