The virus has dealt a new blow to our notes and coins, but is banks sharing branches the way to save cash?

She has just sanctioned the launch of eight 'cash pilot' schemes designed to test new ways of cash remaining available to consumers and businesses who prefer to use it. On Friday, Ceeney, former boss of the Financial Ombudsman Service, told The Mail on Sunday: 'I am fighting for freedom of choice – giving everyone the right to use cash in addition to other payment methods. Ceeney says: 'Last week, the Government confirmed to me that it still intends to introduce legislation requiring banks to provide access to cash. The new legislation follows years of encouragement by the banks for consumers and businesses to jettison cash in favour of online or card payments – ideally by swishing plastic over a contactless reader. Communities that will pilot the shared bank branch idea have all seen their high streets become bankless in recent years. One of the eight is Ampthill in Bedfordshire – a market town that earned its name in a less than complimentary reference in the Domesday Book of 1086 as an 'ant-infested hill'. He says: 'Nobody is fooled by what is going on – the banks are acting in an underhand manner, encouraging us to ditch cash for their own selfish reasons. Many people simply prefer to handle money and it is also cheaper for traders than having to pay for card payments. She is happy to take payment any way the customer chooses – cash, card or contactless.  But she believes cash plays a key role in the financial education of youngsters – she has two children aged nine and 11 who have been studying at home during lockdown.  Claire says: 'Children need to handle money as it helps them learn about its value and it aids them with their maths studies. Derek French is former director of the Campaign for Community Banking Services – an organisation that argued for shared bank branches in the early 2000s.  On Friday, he told The Mail on Sunday: 'Communities were asked if they wished to be part of this pilot scheme back in March before coronavirus swept across the country – with the deadline for entries being the start of June. 'It is absolutely ridiculous to have held the application process during a global pandemic when people had far bigger and more important issues on their minds. Only 21 communities responding is a small amount compared to the hundreds adversely affected by the axeing of bank branches and cash machines.' French added: 'I fear the pilot is being set up to fail because many of the large communities that have been hit hardest by the loss of access to cash missed the deadline.' There are hopes the Post Office – with 11,500 outlets nationwide – can help support the cash pilot programme.