The government has created a task force to look into the growth in fee-charging cash machine installations.

The group has been set up by the Commons Treasury Committee as part of its ongoing investigation into cash machines that slap charges on transactions.

It will meet regularly over the next six months to discuss the siting of free and fee-charging cash machines, particularly in low-income areas, and ways of making it clearer to consumers which machines are fee-charging.

Consumer groups such as Which? are worried that some machines do not make it clear that they charge fees. They also fear there may not be enough free machines in rural locations or areas of deprivation.

News of the task force came as HIM issued results of a survey commissioned by cash machine network Link suggesting that retailers installing fee-charging machines were missing a trick.

HIM said free machines generally racked up 15-20 times more transactions than fee-paying ones, thus driving greater footfall. And it said the average number of transactions at free machines had risen in the past year, while transactions at fee-paying machines had fallen.