Fears over cash access as 250 free ATMs a month vanish

Machines disappearing rapidly

Fresh fears have been raised over access to cash as figures suggest free-to-use ATMs are vanishing at an “alarming” rate of more than 250 per month.

Cash machine network Link released figures showing a 1,300 fall in the number of free-to-use ATMs between the end of January and the start of July, taking the total to 53,200.

Link has committed to maintain the broad geographical coverage of the ATM network in the UK and to publish data on progress.

It said the number of machines has grown quickly in recent years, at a time when cash use has been declining and the vast majority of closures have been in busy, concentrated areas.

Jenni Allen, managing director of Which? Money, said: “The rate at which free-to-use cashpoints are closing is alarming.”

She said the regulator “must now urgently intervene to stop further closures and ensure that no more consumers are suddenly stripped of their access to cash”.

Meanwhile, 76 out of 2,365 protected free-to-use ATMS closed between the start of February and July.

A protected ATM is one that is more than a kilometre from any other, and its existence helps to maintain access to cash in remote areas.

Of the 76 closed ATMs, 43 have a free Post Office cash over the counter service within a kilometre and 12 have no public access, due to being within a closed company site, for example. No further action is planned in these cases.

The remaining 21 would leave no alternative cash access and these are under investigation. Subsidies to open new ATMs will be provided if closures have left a cash access issue, Link said.

The release of the figures follows a row over the funding of the ATM network.

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