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Budget access to cash plans are welcome, but focus must now be on including everyone in the digital economy, says IPPR

Government must bridge ‘digital divide’ to ensure no one is locked out of using vital digital financial services, says IPPR

The progressive think tank IPPR has responded to yesterday’s budget announcements on legislation to protect access to cash and on the digital economy, welcoming plans to ensure everyone can get cash if they need it, but warning that more needs to be done to ensure no one is locked out of the digital economy.

Rachel Statham, IPPR Scotland Senior Research Fellow, said:

“The plans announced in the budget to protect cash are welcome, but it's important that the government now invests in building bridges to digital services that work for everyone. That means investment in digital skills for people of all ages, improved connectivity so more people can get online, and supporting the development of more inclusive technologies.

“Access to digital financial services is already a prerequisite to full participation in our economy. We now need to see sustained attention from government and regulators to deliver a transition to a future economy that is both more digital, and more just. 

“In our recent report, IPPR called for major investment in improving connectivity, digital skills and developing more inclusive financial technologies. The budget announcement of £5 billion to support the rollout of gigabit-capable broadband in the most difficult to reach 20 per cent of the country, and £510 million of match-funded government investment in 4G mobile coverage are both welcome measures that will go some way to closing the UK's digital divide.

“The announcement of a major review into the UK FinTech sector with a focus on improving competitiveness is also welcome, but it's important that financial regulators do more to support the development of financial technologies that are accessible to all.” 

In January 2020 IPPR published a report on the shift away from cash which recommended a series of policies to deliver excellent financial services to all, bring more people into the formal economy and democratise the use of data. The report is available here.


  1. The IPPR paper, Not Cashless, but Less Cash: Economic Justice and the Future of UK Payments by Rachel Statham, Lesley Rankin and Douglas Sloan is available here:
  2. Budget: announcements on access to cash are on p54, digital connectivity plans are on p46 and the Fintech review is announced on p56 of the budget, available here:
  3. IPPR is the UK’s pre-eminent progressive think tank. With more than 40 staff in offices in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national presence.

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