HM Treasury has published a summary of responses it received to its consultation on protecting access to cash across the U.K. In the response, HM Treasury confirms that it will be proceeding with the proposal to designate which firms will have obligations to ensure reasonable access to withdrawal and deposit facilities for individuals and reasonable access to deposit facilities for SMEs. The measures will be provided for in the Financial Services and Markets Bill, which was announced in the Queen's Speech.
As consulted on, HM Treasury will be empowered to set geographic baselines for reasonable access to cash withdrawal and deposit facilities across the U.K., which baselines would be set out in a policy statement following consultation with the Financial Conduct Authority. This approach will mean that there will be flexibility for adapting the baselines in response to changing needs. HM Treasury will have powers to designate the firms that would be subject to the cash access requirements, with the largest retail and banking providers being the starting place. HM Treasury will be able to set geographic requirements at different levels for Northern Ireland and Great Britain, as appropriate.
The FCA will be given powers to oversee the designated firms. Referring to voluntary industry efforts to ensure access to cash through the Cash Action Group and UK Finance, HM Treasury states that a body established for financial institutions to provide shared services in efforts to ensure access to cash will also be designated and subject to FCA supervision.
HM Treasury confirms that, as announced in its April policy statement, the Bank of England will be granted powers to oversee the wholesale cash industry to ensure it continues to operate effectively.