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New £20 note issued today, but will it be the last?

The long-awaited new plastic £20 notes were issued across the UK today amid a cash crisis which is hitting communities across the country.

The long-awaited new plastic £20 notes were issued across the UK today amid a cash crisis which is hitting communities across the country. Labour MP for Torfaen, Nick Thomas-Symonds, visited the Cwmbran Centre’s NM Money this morning to withdraw one of the new notes and call on government to do more to protect access to cash on our high streets at the upcoming Budget on 11 March. NM Money in the Cwmbran Centre was one of the few cash machines in the UK chosen to dispense these new notes on issue day. However, accessing your cash for free is becoming increasingly difficult amid the cash crisis in the UK, with a report this week suggesting the UK’s cash infrastructure is in danger of collapsing in less than a decade.  This crisis is driven by large banks cutting the interchange fee – the payment they make to support infrastructure and ensure their customers can access their cash – meaning cash machine operators are being forced to convert machines from free-to-use to pay-to-use. while banks also cut costs elsewhere by closing branches across the UK in pursuit of higher profit margins. Meanwhile, communities cannot access their own cash and some of the UK’s most vulnerable people pay the price. Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour MP for Torfaen, said:  “It’s great that my constituents can be amongst the first to pocket the new £20 notes. However, the government must act now to ensure these notes are not the last. Free access to cash is vital and must be protected by government, putting the interest of consumers first before that of big banks. The Budget on March 11 is the perfect opportunity for the Chancellor to act.” Peter McNamara, Chief Executive of independent cashpoint provider NoteMachine, said: “NoteMachine is excited to be part of the launch of the new £20 note but is concerned that this might be the last new note the UK sees. An increasing amount of consumers are being forced to pay to access their own, to the benefit of banks’ profit margins. This is not right.  We have argued for years that the changes to the way the ATM network is funded would lead to a loss in free access to cash. It is vital that government and the regulator return to the earlier pricing mechanism which enabled providers to offer free to use ATMs, or risk this cash crisis getting even worse.”

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