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Cash Still Needed for Many Older People

Published on 16 July 2020 09:45 AM

Our Chief Executive Dan Skipper joined the BBC Radio Norfolk Breakfast Show this morning to talk about the rise of ‘contactless’ only payments introduced by some businesses as part of their COVID-19 safety controls, and how this is making life difficult for many older people.

Age UK has called on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), who regulate the banking sector, to ensure stronger guidance to banks about cash availability and supporting vulnerable people, and to continue some of the emergency services that were put in place during lockdown.

They also welcome several firms who have proactively contacted their older customers to see how they can help them, and encourage the FCA to promote a continuation of these services, as well as more banks to work with the Post Office, who introduced new schemes to help customers access cash.

Dan said “This is part of a wider problem of digital exclusion for some older people. 31% of people aged 70+ live in households without access to the internet (2.3 million). This is a group who are already isolated, and worse off financially due to the predominance of deals only being available online. Due to the lack of internet provision, especially in some rural areas, online banking is not a viable option.”

“We acknowledge that the pandemic has prompted many older people to make the jump to contactless or online banking which is a positive step for them for the future. 72% of people have used ‘contactless’ in East Anglia, but cash is the second most used currency and many people rely on it for paying for essential services and managing their lives.”

“We know this is a balance in view of people’s safety, but businesses have been encouraged by the Government to use contactless, but it’s not mandated. Local businesses have done a lot to support vulnerable people during the lockdown, and this needs to continue now we are getting back to normal. A one-size solution will exclude the many older people who rely on cash to budget and pay for services – and many of them will be their loyal customers.”

“Norwich is marked as one of the loneliest places to live in the country, and business and the community need to be flexible and considerate to engage and include as many people as possible, especially after months of lockdown.”

If you are worried about cash availability or making cash payments:

  • Talk to your bank. Many have dedicated helplines for the over 70s or have put special arrangements in place for vulnerable people.
  • Talk to the shops and companies who help you. Find out if cash is still an option, or other ways you may be able to pay. Some local shops have re-introduced old fashioned schemes like “tick”, “’tabs” or monthly payment schemes. Cheque maybe another option.
  • Look at new services available at the Post Office, such as ‘Fast PACE’ and ‘Payout Now’ to help access cash. Speak to your bank to see if they are signed-up to these schemes.
  • Remember your buying power. If you can, shop around and find a company who is more flexible in how you can pay.
  • Take advantage of support available to learn other options, such as telephone banking, or online banking. Many banks, libraries and charities offer support to get people up-and-running.
  • Consider a Power of Attorney, a legal authority for another person(s) to manage your financial affairs. Some banks also offer appointing a temporary ‘trusted person’, to help manage finances if you are self-isolating.

If you have concerns, or need help and support, contact our advice line on 01603 496333, or email enquiries@ageuknorwich.org.uk

You can read the full article about Age UK’s letter to the Financial Conduct Authority here:

https://www.ageuk.org.uk/latest-press/articles/2020/05/charity-calls-on-fca-to-secure-older-peoples-access-to-cash/