Over one million people are benefiting from 419 new non-charging cash machines installed in low-income areas throughout the UK in the last 18 months, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Kitty Ussher MP and Treasury Select Committee Chairman, John McFall MP announced today.
This substantial progress is the result of a joint initiative between HM Treasury and the ATM working group, chaired by John McFall.
Kitty Ussher and John McFall announced that:
- 419 new free access cash machines are now operating in low income areas;
- A further 143 locations for free access cash machines have been identified and are planned for end- 2008;
- These 562 free cash machines will benefit around 1.3m residents who as a result will not have to pay charges or to travel outside their community to withdraw cash; and
- Work continues to ensure there is a free access cash machine in every identified target area.
Kitty Ussher said: "This initiative means that over one million people in low income areas no longer have to pay to get hold of their money. This is real progress in our campaign for access to free cash machines in neighbourhoods up and down the country and a step forward for financial inclusion.
"When people have to pay to get their hands on their own money it excludes them from the financial system and these real costs are often borne by those who can least afford it. These new cash machines will help individuals on low incomes to access financial services as easily and cheaply as possible.
"I am also pleased that the ATM industry had made real steps to improve its signs on cash machines so that it is absolutely clear at a glance whether the machine is free or charging.
"When this initiative is completed and all of the free-to-use machines are in place, around two million low-income Britons will benefit - a fantastic result and I would like to thank all the parties involved for their efforts in make sure this happened."
John McFall said: "In today's society, financial exclusion can lead to social exclusion, as it makes worse the problems that people in low-income areas face. It is vital that every family can access the basic financial services, such as bank accounts and cash machines, which many of us take for granted. This free-to-access ATMs initiative has allowed 1.3 million people in low-income areas to benefit - an outstanding achievement.
"A number of the new cash machines have proven so popular that they now no longer require funding from the scheme-proof that these machines were much needed, and are making a real difference to the communities in which they are located.
"The efforts put in by all those involved in the initiative-in particular, LINK and the cash machine operators-have been commendable. The Treasury Select Committee has worked hard to keep financial inclusion on the agenda for many years now, and I am delighted that, with the help of the Government and the financial services industry, this hard work is paying off."
LINK, the operator of the UK cash machine network, has been coordinating efforts to place the cash machines in low-income areas, and enforcing the rules on cash machine charging and signage.
Kitty Ussher and John McFall also praised the work of LINK to update screen information and make changes to external signage at the majority of pay-to-use cash machines. This ensures that charging machines meet good practice standards for "at a glance" signage, enabling customers to quickly and easily distinguish between charging and non-charging machines.