When former Treasury secretary Liam Byrne left his successors a note in 2010 saying there was “no money left”, he may have had a point.
Byrne’s note was criticised at the time for being a joke in poor taste, and he admitted this year it may have hindered the Labour party’s performance in the last election – but in fact the former minister could’ve actually been referring to the futuristic payment system at the Treasury offices, where canteens and cafes don’t even take cash anymore.
The Treasury uses key cards that staff can top up electronically without the need for cash at all.
Anyone with a staff pass to the building, from the cleaners to George Osborne, can top their passes up with credit to use at cafes, canteens and coffee machines not available to the public.
Fortunately for forgetful Treasury mandarins, tills are still in operation at the building’s public cafes, such as the one in reception, but it does mean mingling with tourists and the common folk.
The news comes in stark contrast to an announcement published in the Bank of England’s quarterly bulletin last week, which claimed that hard cash is still going strong.
“Over the next few years, consumers are likely to use cash for a smaller proportion of the payments they make,” Tom Fish and Roy Whymark of the Bank’s notes directorate said.
“Even so, overall demand is likely to remain resilient. Cash is not likely to die out any time soon.”