Consumer group Which? is continuing its campaign against the closure of bank branches and cash machines across the UK, calling on the Government to introduce legislation guaranteeing free access to cash.
Which? analysis of data from Link - the UK’s biggest ATM network - shows one in 10 (9%) free cashpoints across the country closed or switched to fee-paying in a 17-month period after major changes to how the network is funded.
Deprived areas are losing free cash machines at a much faster rate than affluent ones across the UK, says Which?, forcing thousands of people in poorer communities to pay up to £2 per withdrawal from independent cash machine operators.
Mastercard recently came forward with plans to offer local shops a fee for processing cashback transactions over the counter. But with the card scheme responsible for just 10% of debit card transactions in a market dominated by Visa, the initiative is unlikely to have a serious impact.
Which? chief executive 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.
Which? believes the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) must urgently take control of how cashpoints are funded to address the rapid reduction in free cash access across the UK, backed by appropriate legislation from the Government.
Jenny Ross, Which? Money Editor, says: “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.”