Burslem has been selected for a national scheme aiming to improve access to cash.
In 2018, the Mother Town became the first community in the UK with a population of more than 20,000 to have neither a bank branch nor bank ATM on its high street.
The town is now one of eight around the country that will take part in the Community Access to Cash pilots.
Community leaders and local businesses in Burslem will work with the banking industry to find ways of keeping cash viable. This will include supporting shops to accept and bank cash, ensuring that people can access cash and working with Stoke-on-Trent City Council to put the right infrastructure in place.
The aim of the scheme will be to identify the local issues around cash and find workable solutions which could then be rolled out nationally.
A recent report from UK finance found that cash use now represents just 23 per cent of all payments in the UK, while the Covid-19 lockdown has seen a 60 per cent fall in cash machine use.
Natalie Ceeney, chairwoman of the Community Access to Cash Pilot, said: “Over the past decade, we’ve seen a massive shift from cash to digital payments, and Covid-19 has accelerated that trend further.
“But we know that digital payments don’t yet work for everyone, and for many individuals and communities, cash remains essential. But the world is changing – we can’t just magic back our old bank branch and ATM infrastructure. Instead, we need to use innovation to develop new solutions as well as harness tried and tested approaches to meet people’s needs.”
While Burslem town centre still has no bank branches, it does have one free ATM as well as one that charges.
Stoke-on-Trent North MP Jonathan Gullis welcomed the decision to select Burslem for the pilot.
He said: “I am grateful to Access for Cash having accepted my bid, alongside local councillors, businesses and community champions for Burslem, to help restore some traditional financial services back in our local community.
“Since the loss of local bank branches and with them the ATMs, it means many people aren’t able to undertake many of the day to day financial service that others take for granted. I look forward to working with Access to Cash, local business and residents to help secure some long-term solutions that will help rebuild our high street once again.”
June Cartwright, founder of the Our Burslem community group, said: “I’ve been using my card for everything recently, but I think once the pubs and restaurants that Burslem is known for start to open again, people will start complaining about the lack of ATMs again.
“There was a time when we had four banks in the town. Now you have to go to Tunstall, and there’s always a queue. It would be great if the banks could work together to improve access.”
The pilots will start in the summer and run for the rest of the year.