cashpoint atm money

Deprived areas are losing free cash machines at a much faster rate than affluent ones across the UK, says Which?

The Association of Convenience Stores has welcomed calls from consumer group Which? for the government and regulators to “urgently get a grip” on the depletion of cashpoints.

New research from Which? today reveals deprived areas are losing free cash machines at a much faster rate than affluent ones across the UK, forcing thousands of people to pay up to £1.99 per withdrawal.

Its analysis of data from Link - the UK’s biggest ATM network - shows one in 10 free cashpoints across the country closed or switched to fee-paying in a 17-month period, following major changes to how the network is funded.

Birmingham Ladywood, which has a large proportion of its ATMs in deprived neighbourhoods, saw the biggest loss, with a reduction of 47 free machines.

Bristol West (-40), Manchester Central (-36), Belfast South (-34), and Cardiff Central (-34) came next - all constituencies with a large proportion of deprived areas.

Now Which? CEO Anabel Hoult and Natalie Ceeney, chair of the independent Access to Cash Review, have written to chancellor Sajid Javid calling on the government to take action to guarantee people’s ability to access and pay with cash.

They have sought to ensure that millions of people who rely on cash as a payment method are not left behind as digital payments grow in popularity.

Jenny Ross, Which? Money editor, said: “We know that people in more deprived communities tend to rely heavily on cash, so it’s deeply concerning that those who can least afford it are being hit with the extra burden of hefty fees to access their own money as free cashpoints close at an alarming rate.

“The government and regulators must urgently get a grip on these rapid changes to the cash landscape and guarantee people across the UK can continue to access this important payment method for as long as it is required.”

ACS CEO James Lowman said millions of consumers still relied on cash every day, especially in isolated and deprived areas.

“Convenience stores are keen to provide free access to cash for customers as it is an essential service that benefits other local businesses and the wider community, but Link’s decision to cut interchange fees has meant many have now been left with pay-to-use machines.”

Lowman said the ACS would continue to urge the Payments Systems Regulator to intervene to ensure that free access to cash was available to all communities in the UK, as well as calling on the government to take free-to-use ATMs out of the business rates system altogether, to ease the cost pressures of operating a machine.

Figures from the 2019 Local Shop Report show that 46% of convenience stores have a free-to-use cash machine.