Coronavirus: Ask-a-friend cash access scheme extended

Anyone who cannot leave home may be able to ask a trusted friend or volunteer to withdraw cash at any Post Office using a single-use voucher.

The Post Office scheme is being extended and offered to all banks, building societies and credit unions.

If the bank allows it, someone can ask for a one-time barcode sent via text, email or post for a stipulated amount.

A trusted friend or volunteer can exchange the voucher for the cash requested.

Previously, only a named individual, such as a carer, could collect cash in this way on someone’s behalf. Now any trusted neighbour or volunteer can do so.

The idea of the Payout Now scheme is to allow people who are shielded or self-isolating, mainly elderly, to maintain access to cash without having to hand over a debit card and Pin to somebody else.

They tell their bank exactly how much they want to withdraw from their account, up to a limit set by the bank, and allow a family member, trusted friend or volunteer to collect it on their behalf in exchange for the voucher.

Martin Kearsley, banking director at the Post Office, said: “Being able to easily access cash is a vital service for older people and those self-isolating.

“[This] means they can access cash quickly and securely to repay someone for a helpful service like shopping, or simply manage their finances, providing peace of mind that cash can be securely sourced with the help of any trusted helper.”