Banks forced to provide free local cash machines for all

ATMs within “reasonable distance” of every UK home

Stephen Little
Mon, 07/13/2020 – 11:29


Banks will have to provide free cash machines within a “reasonable distance” of every UK home under new laws being prepared by the Government.

It comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced new laws in his budget on 11 March that everyone who needs access to cash will be able to get it.

Around 7,200 cash dispensers have been closed during the lockdown, out of a total of 60,000.

In some parts of Britain cash machine use has fallen by 90% over fears of using cash during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Sunday Times.

Some have closed because they were too close to other cash machines and made social distancing impossible, while others were in shops that have been shut.

The full details of the new legislation will be announced soon.

The Treasury says: “We know that many individuals and businesses still rely on cash, which is why we’re co-ordinating work across government, regulators and industry, so we can protect access for everyone who needs it, and have committed to bring forward legislation.

“Part of this work includes investing over £2 billion in the Post Office since 2010, giving people across the country local access to everyday banking services.”

Shoppers have also been encouraged to use contactless card payments instead of cash during the coronavirus pandemic to help cut the spread of the disease, reducing the need for ATMs even further.

 In April, the contactless limit increased from £30 to £45, causing a surge in the number of people using debit cards. Some shops are also refusing to accept cash because of the pandemic.

John Howells, chief executive of cash machine network Link, says: “Link is expecting some ATMs not to reopen, mainly where the locations that they are in do not reopen, or where machines next to others are removed to maintain social distancing.

“In all cases the public can be reassured that Link will take action to maintain overall coverage and that all highstreets large and small will continue to have free access to cash.”

There are growing concerns that the move towards a cashless society too quickly could leave millions struggling.

Even though the use of cards and electronic payments is increasing, cash is still a necessity for eight million people.

The Access to Cash Review warns that if Britain becomes a cashless society the elderly and disabled could lose their independence, while rural communities could also be threatened.

There have been some industry initiatives, such as the ‘request an ATM’ service and cashback at local shops.

However, experts believe this will not be enough to reduce the impact of cash machine and bank closures.

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