Free ATMs essential for rural and small town communities

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It’s a serious problem for people and businesses in rural and small-town locations, where cash is becoming increasingly difficult to access.

Link, which oversees the UK's network of cash machines, has set up a £1m fund to pay for ATMs in so-called ‘cash deserts’ although this will only fund 40 to 50 machines across the country. Bungay in Suffolk has been identified as a priority location, following the rapid departure of high street banks from the town.

There were 52,358 free-to-use machines operating in the UK at the end of 2018 – about five times as many as pay-to-use machines. A total of 2.4 billion withdrawals were made from these machines last year, dwarfing other ways of accessing cash, such as cashback and over-the-counter. So it’s important that the facility remains available equally, fairly and widely in rural as well as urban areas.

Consumer Association Which? revealed that free-to-use cash machines were disappearing quicker in deprived areas than in affluent ones. Which? has called for an independent body, funded by the banks, to be set up that would step in if local communities were running short of access to cash in shops and ATMs.

CAN Chief Executive Jon Clemo says: “The withdrawal of free-to-use ATMs from our rural and market town communities parallels the disappearance of other facilities such as local post offices, public transport and fast broadband.”

“Here at CAN, we work to build a stronger and fairer Norfolk, where no-one is unfairly disadvantaged because of where they live or work, and will endorse any initiative to retain essential facilities in communities across the county.”

Read more about Link’s initiative here and more information in the BBC report .  The Eastern Daily Press has also recently reported the situation in detail.