Star comment: We mustn't abandon cash entirely

Cash is a busted flush. Like so many aspects of life, it’s decline has been sped up by the pandemic.

It was already ailing as people turned to their trusty plastic cards or smart phones that are able to dispense payments at the tills. With shops reluctant to engage in the potentially-unhealthy spreading of Covid via cash, the volume used has slumped.

And yet cash matters. There are many who need to use pounds and pence in order to function. The absence of cash and the difficulty in using it particularly hits the elderly, those in rural communities and those who suffer from domestic abuse. Such cohorts gain some sense of control over their lives through the use of cash and it is an essential part of their regime.

While we cannot - and should not - stop the move to digital and tap payments, it is essential that cash remains accessible so that those who want it and need it can get hold of it, whatever their location or situation.

We must not find ourselves where those in rural communities no longer have access to a cashpoint or where pensioners who are intimidated by credit cards and smartphones find they are unable to buy a loaf of bread or pint of milk from their local shop.

We must also remember the people for whom money provides greater discipline over their household finances, for there are many who blaze through credit cards but exercise greater caution when spending physical cash.

Our society is changing and we cannot impede progress. We must ensure that people do not fall through the cracks and that there is provision to help those who need it most. That includes the many who still use cash.

When those in the public eye reveal the difficulties they have experienced through life, many of us breathe a sigh of relief. Being vulnerable and facing adversity are states that all of us experience, to a greater or lesser degree. While there are those who portray themselves as being bulletproof, we all know that few people really are.

In the case of Jay Blades, he should be commended for his courage in coming forward to talk of his own reading difficulties. Similarly, we should reflect on the huge impact that literacy issues have on individuals and society at large. They can cut short the hopes and dreams of many and are more widespread than people would care to admit.

Help early in a child’s schooling can make a huge difference to their life going forward. We must support parents and teachers as they look to put youngsters on the right track.

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