THE shift towards digital alternatives to cash accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic, with some shops refusing notes and coins and people shopping online more.

Cash users in rural locations are now concerned that poor broadband and mobile connectivity will make it harder for them to go fully digital, a report by the RSA and funded by cash machine network Link, has said.

There has also been a notable drop in cash machine withdrawals.

A change to car parking at Hexham's Maiden's Walk, which serves both M&S and B&M, which saw cash payments done away with, reignited the debate.

“It is important when considering the great positives that a cashless society brings, to remember the challenges that this will undoubtedly create, not just for older people but for those budgeting on a low income or those who are vulnerable and may be at greater risk of being scammed or lack the technological capabilities to budget online", said Amy Whyte, chief executive of Age UK Northumberland. 

She added: "Our information and advice team can provide support to ensure people are receiving the right benefits and support that they are entitled to and our scams awareness team can support with any concerns that people may have regarding the use of technology to bank and make transactions, but we recognise that this will not be a solution for everyone and this is a concern to us.”