Leading article: The pound in your pocket

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The Independent Online

So you thought the banks had no heart. Well they don't usually, as anyone who has slipped over their overdraft limit knows all too well. But just occasionally they can do the right thing.

So good on Barclays and HSBC for returning the fiver to the cash machine. They have decided, it seems, to return to the long-lost practice of issuing these lower-denomination notes for customers, particularly in university towns and the poorer parts, who tend to take out smaller amounts than the national average of £60.

"We take into account the local social demographic when deciding," says a Barclays spokesperson. "It tends to be more in the North because people tend to have less money." Ah, the remorseless logic of the banker. But don't they understand that this recession is hurting everywhere. Sixty pounds a go is a distant memory for most of us. The smaller the note the better – never mind the wear and tear of having too much coinage in your pocket.