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Alternatives to cash during COVID-19

Following reports of older people expressing fears around what to do when they run out of cash and concerns around how to pay for items delivered by volunteers, forcing some to go to cash points or doing shopping themselves, Ambition for Ageing carried out a time-limited review of available alternatives to cash.
According to Age UK almost 3 million people are reliant on cash completely and poverty is the biggest indicator of cash dependency.
This review paper summarises a number of schemes from across Greater Manchester, the UK and abroad. It is not meant to be a complete catalogue of activity, rather gives examples of the range of options organisations, local authorities and individuals can use to pay for food and essentials during the COVD-19 crisis.

The review found that there is no single answer to cash alternatives, offering a range of options can support a large majority. Suggested alternatives include:


  • Food parcels
  • Shopping online
  • Allowing charging later
  • Payment by cheque
  • Digital Cards  
  • Online transfer
  • Payment to organisation providing a volunteer
  • Payment by cash to a volunteer
  • Ordering over the phone Allowing a trusted person to access money
  • Utilising existing structures of payment
This paper was originally written for the Greater Manchester Humanitarian Assistance Group and is available to download in full below.