Every Thursday morning, Jacky Hailstone drives five miles into the centre of Kingston upon Hull, where she withdraws £70 from a cash machine and folds it into her empty purse.
This is her shopping budget for the next week and represents the amount left after she has carefully divvied up her pension into a number of savings accounts.
Jacky makes her way through the aisles in Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Aldi, hunting for the best deals on offer and paying in crisp £10 notes at the checkout.
The 70-year-old, a former personal assistant, doesn’t own a credit card and says she shops with cash 95 per cent of the time.
Endangered: Banks have launched an attack on cash by stripping the High Street of free ATMs and encouraging customers to use tap-and-go contactless cards for small payments
‘I’ll always choose to use cash over a card,’ she says. ‘I go out of my way to avoid spending on cards.
‘It’s the best way to stick to my weekly budget and I don’t want to be tempted to spend more than I have.’ Jacky is one of the 2.7 million people in the UK who rely solely on cash to do their normal shopping and rarely make a card payment.
But this army of shoppers — many of whom are pensioners or near retirement — are being threatened by a relentless drive towards a cashless society.
Banks have launched an attack on cash by stripping the High Street of free ATMs and encouraging customers to use tap-and-go contactless cards for small payments.
Thousands of free-to-use cash machines are at risk of closure in a major shake-up to the way they are funded.
These changes to the ATM network mean millions of people in rural areas could lose the ability to access bank notes on a daily basis.
As a result, spending in cash is on the decline. Cash is used in just 40 per cent of all transactions and this number will halve again in the next eight years, according to banking trade body UK Finance.
Last week, the Government raised the prospect of scrapping 1p and 2p coins, saying they’re just not used any more.
The threat is so grave that, as part of his Spring Statement, Chancellor Philip Hammond published a consultation into how the Government can support a society where cash is vital to many people — but is quickly disappearing.
Jacky is deeply unsettled by the thought of having to switch from cash to card payments, even if it is some way off.
Each Monday, her pension is paid directly into her account.
The grandmother of five goes into her online banking and moves money into a series of accounts: one for Christmas and birthday presents; her Isa; an emergency pot for car repairs and insurance; and another for household bills.
Cash in hand: Jacky Hailstone doesn’t own a credit card
Jacky rarely spends more than £25 each week on groceries and has around £45 left for petrol, eating out, going for a swim and other treats. She lives frugally, buying clothes from supermarkets and limiting herself to one weekend break every two years.
The only time she uses her debit card is to shop online when her local library is out of the latest murder-mystery novels, or to buy new seeds and gardening equipment for her vegetable patch.
The payments she makes are small, with the books, for example, costing around 75p and £2.50 for delivery. ‘That’s where the best deals are, so I make a rare exception,’ she says.
‘I’m old-fashioned and learned to budget from my mother. I think it’s short-sighted and irresponsible to disregard cash or say we could get rid of pennies.
‘If politicians were living on the salaries that some people do in Hull, they wouldn’t be so quick to get rid of coppers — a lot of people rely on them.’
Jane Dough, 69, from West Byfleet, Surrey, also prefers to spend only in cash. Her stance, she says, stems from when she became uncomfortable with the idea that companies could collect vast amounts of data about her spending habits if she used a debit or credit card.
She fears everyone’s privacy is being eroded as banks railroad customers into going digital.
The retired executive personal assistant never shops online and, when her bank issued her with a contactless debit card, she sent it back, requesting one without the touch-and-go technology.
Banks have encouraged customers to use these high-tech cards as a quick and easy way of paying for small amounts of shopping. You can spend as much as £30 at a time without entering a PIN.
But official figuires show the boom in contactless payments has fuelled a 51 per cent rise in fraud on lost or stolen credit or debit cards in the past year.
Experts said that some of the increase in fraud may have been down to opportunistic thieves who are no longer stopped from spending on cards if they don’t have the Pin.
For someone like Jane, who is often nipping to ATMs, the risks of carrying around a small amount of cash seem less by comparison.
She says: ‘I don’t want scammers to be able to lift details from my card, and I felt like I’d be opening myself up to fraud if I used contactless.’
Jane juggled two credit cards when she was working and had greater financial demands.
When she retired ten years ago, she found she was spending less and had more time to manage her finances, so cancelled the cards for peace of mind.
Banks have encouraged customers to use contactless cards as a quick and easy way of paying for small amounts of shopping. You can spend as much as £30 at a time without entering a PIN
Each time someone spends on a credit or debit card, the details are logged by the bank and the card company it uses.
So your bank can tell exactly where you are in the country, the name of the shop you are buying from, when you made the purchase and how much you spent there.
Using this data, banks can build a picture of you as a consumer.
It means that if someone steals your card and goes on a spending spree, a red flag will likely be raised on your account and it could be frozen to prevent further fraud.
But they also use this information to push special offers based on spending habits.
Some retailers build a profile of customers who pay by card. They assign shoppers an ID number and log each item they buy.
This information can then be sold on to other retailers who can target you with adverts for similar products. Some shops will offer discounts depending on your income or where you live.
When you pay with cash, on the other hand, there is no electronic trace that ties you to a particular purchase.
James Daley, director of consumer group Fairer Finance, says: ‘It’s perfectly reasonable that some people don’t feel comfortable with every element of their lives being recorded on a system.
‘It may be useful for bank fraud teams, marketing teams or even the police to be able to monitor every person’s every transaction, but it’s not consistent with the principles of our free and open society.’
Jane doesn’t use a computer and fears that other people are too ready to hand over their personal information to companies.
She says: ‘It’s about having the choice. I don’t deny that cards are extremely convenient, and it wouldn’t suit everyone to nip to cash machines all the time like I do. But I don’t like the idea that each time you make a card payment, your privacy is eroded.’
Experts say many shops are also behind the push towards a cashless society. When they take large amounts of cash, they have to fork out for security guards and surveillance equipment.
Their insurance premiums are also higher because there is a greater risk of being targeted by burglars in store and when they travel to the bank to pay in money and get change.
However, there are also shops, particularly those that process lots of small value transactions, such as newsagents, which still prefer cash.
Threat: Thousands of free-to-use cash machines are at risk of closure in a major shake-up to the way they are funded
This is because banks, card issuers and the payment technology firms take a cut of each card transaction, which eats into retailers’ profits.
The odd time that Jane does make a card payment is on big-ticket items, such as a vacuum cleaner.
This means she doesn’t have to carry around large sums of cash, which could be stolen or lost.
It also gives her more protection than paying in cash.
Purchases between £100 and £30,000 on credit cards are protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which gives buyers a route to a refund if something goes wrong.
Purchases on debit cards receive similar protection under so-called chargeback rules. Several times a week, Jane takes out small amounts of cash and scours markets for cheap vegetables she can use to cook big batches of soups and stews that will last over a few days.
It’s part of her weekly routine and an opportunity to chat with other local residents.
She fears the decline in cash will lead to communities where people no longer speak to each other.
Jane says: ‘The majority of people don’t seem to want to be served by a person any more. They want to keep their headphones on and scan their own items at a self-service machine in the supermarket.
‘But I still value service and, as long as there’s a friendly staff member at a till, I’ll wait to be seen by them.’
When Norman Cohen, 65, from Stanmore, Middlesex, heard of the Government’s plan to scrap 1p and 2p coins, he worried that he would be pressured into spending on a card.
But a backlash from charities and pensioner groups forced the Government into a U-turn.
Norman, who describes himself as a creature of habit, says he doesn’t trust modern technology and prefers to pay his bills by cheque.
He doesn’t bank online and even refuses to use a cash machine to withdraw money over fraud fears.
Instead, he goes to his bank once every fortnight and withdraws what he needs for himself and his elderly mother, who is in her 90s and lives with him.
Money Mail has reported on the huge rise in fraudsters targeting customers who make digital payments or who have online bank accounts.
Victims can be tricked into transferring money over the internet to fraudsters posing as legitimate tradesmen, bank staff or even the police.
Last year, Norman received a call from a scammer masquerading as a police officer who told him his bank had reported fraudulent activity on his credit card.
Norman had never owned a credit card, so hung up straight away.
‘I avoid spending on cards at all costs,’ he says. ‘I always like to make sure that I have more coming in than going out, and working with cash is by far the best way for me to do this.’
In its consultation on the future of cash last week, the Treasury said it wanted to research ‘how the Government can support digital payments and ensure that the ability to pay by cash is available for those who need it’.
A spokeswoman for the Treasury says: ‘Cash continues to play an important part in the lives of many people and businesses in the UK.
‘As last week’s call for evidence makes clear, we are committed to ensuring that the public’s cash needs continue to be met.’
A UK Finance spokesman says: ‘There will always be a place for cash as a way for people to pay.
‘The advent of new payment methods means consumers now have more choice about how they access their money in the way that best suits them, whether that’s cash, card or digital payment.’