/ Money

Getting rid of cashpoints is ripping apart communities: is yours affected? 

closed cashpoint

Thousands of free-to-use cashpoints are at risk of closure, which could have a real impact in rural communities, where residents rely on them to access their cash. At an event in Parliament this week, we once again urged the regulator to step in…

For millions of us living in small towns and villages across the country, life often revolves around a series of barely noticed but essential daily rituals.

The daily stroll to buy a newspaper and perhaps a pint of milk, stopping for a chat with the shopkeeper who you’ve known for years.

There might be a chance encounter with a friend on the high street and time for a cup of tea before hopping on a bus to visit a friend or relative across town.

Perhaps you take your child to a mother and baby group, sing in the choir or are a member of the bridge club – and in the evening enjoy a meal in a local pub or restaurant before taking a taxi home.

These small interactions and activities are the glue that holds our communities together – and all rely heavily on people having easy access to cash to pay for these goods and services locally.

Access denied

But many communities could soon see their access to cash cut off – with free-to-use cashpoints threatened with closure by changes to the way the network is funded.

Link – the UK’s largest cash machine network – has announced a 20% reduction in the fees banks pay machine operators when their customers withdraw cash.

Such reductions will make some cashpoints no longer financially viable to run, leading to machines being removed in their thousands.

These changes have been led by pressures from some banks keen to cut their costs and have been waved through without any consideration for the very real impact they would have on communities.

Our campaign

That’s why Which? has teamed up with the Federation of Small Businesses to call on the Payment System Regulator (PSR) to urgently intervene and ensure that people won’t be stripped of their preferred and relied-upon method of payment.

Many people and small businesses are already reeling from bank branch closures – over 2,000 in the past three years alone.

The removal of free-to-use cashpoints would be a further blow, leaving many people facing an uphill struggle simply to pay for the goods and services they depend upon.

We know that over 2.7 million people are almost entirely reliant on cash. And we know, from the countless stories we’ve heard since our campaign launch, that for many people, there is much more at stake than convenience.

We heard from Sue, who lives in a rural Welsh community that’s already been hit with bank closures.

She needs cash to pay the milkman, top up electricity and pay the food delivery scheme of which she’s a member.

Her ability to carry out all these essential daily tasks is suddenly thrown into real doubt by potential cashpoint closures.

Cashpoint deserts

Recently, we found more than 200 mostly rural communities to be under-resourced in terms of access to a free-to-use cashpoint – with just one machine, or none at all.

Cardtronics – the UK’s largest operator of machines – has already warned that these changes will have the greatest impact in these areas.

This campaign is not about trying to halt the march of progress. There is scope to reduce the number of cashpoints side-by-side in cities and large towns as other forms of payment reduce the use of cash by many people.

We recognise that technological advances have brought new ways to pay that have enriched people’s daily lives. But we also recognise the needs of all those who do rely on free cash to go about their business. So the PSR must explore all the options available to guarantee convenient access to free withdrawals across the UK.

That’s why, at an event in Parliament on 26 February, we called on the PSR to intervene and ensure people like Sue, and all those people and communities that rely on accessing cash, can continue to do so.

This is an adapted version of an article by Peter Vicary-Smith, which was originally published in The Telegraph.

Do you think the PSR should be doing more to protect access to free-to-use cashpoints? Is your community being affected by cashpoint closures?

Comments
John Dodkins says:
1 June 2018

Both my wife and I have walking difficulties. We were lucky to live right next door to a building with Barclays, NatWest and Lloyds subbranches. NatWest was first to go. Then Lloyds and finally Barclays has closed and they all took their cash machines with them. Now we have a long walk to the nearest one and neither of us can manage it.

There was a cash point in John Street Cullercoats which has now gone with the closure of the post office. The nearest one now is three quarters of a mile away. Do not understand why North East Coop’s do not have them as other Coop’s in the Midlands there is one at every Coop with three in my area. This area Cullercoats has a lot of old people and they find the only one available to them is a long way away. One at the big Coop in Cullercoats would be ideal as plenty of outside wall space and space inside this Coop to accommodate one.

It’s no good reporting a cashpoint – there isn’t one within a 3 mile radius of where I live! We are lucky in that we can use the machine in the village post office in normal opening hours but if you need cash when it isn’t open it’s literally on yer bike or into the car for a minimum 3 mile drive to the nearest town. Good, innit?

Janet Phipps says:
2 June 2018

The nearest cash point charges to supply my own money.
The second nearest is often empty or doesn’t work and is behind a shop in a garage -open to a main road. The next one is over a mile away.
The Coop Bank closed. The Britannia Building Society closed. The Natwest closed – nearest branch in Ipswich – nearly an hour away by bus.

My nearest cash point is just inside the three mile radius from my home, that charge £1.99 per transaction. Would you believe that i am 8.5 miles from the center of Cambridge and 6.8 miles from the center of Royston.

so far touch wood, my local ATM functions OK with no charges etc.When the NatWest closed nearly 3 years they have kept the machine where it has always been and regularly serviced

Marie says:
3 June 2018

My nearest free cash point is a half hour’s drive away, and the nearest pay for cash point is 4 miles away in a Spar shop. Since the closure of the local post office, people without a car have to rely on getting a lift or paying a taxi to get hold of their own money. The single bank in the nearest town is also threatening to close, giving the excuse that more people are using online banking so there isn’t a need for local branches. Show me how online banking can deliver me cash, and where to go when the IT system crashes and the bank’s advice is to go to your local branch. My own bank’s nearest branch is over an hour’s drive away. Why can’t banks club together and have 2 or 3 in a single building?

I travel around Hampshire and Surrey on a daily basis. Visiting older people in their homes. Although the can walk with help. They can not use public transport or drive. If they have a local shop that is open they might be able to use a cashpoint. They do not do Internet banking or transfer. No respect for these people. Or is it a conspiracy to make them sell up. To free these lovely villages to younger people or developers?

Is becoming a real problem with the continuing closure of “main street “banks.This will,no doubt,continue with the closure of so many major Department Stores in the High Street’s.Bank’s pushing On line banking and staff cuts in High Street Banks.Locally many Natwest branches closed consolidating into main Centres which always have queues with overworked staff to cope at most times during business hours.

Jacqueline says:
6 June 2018

I live on West Mersea. Like many others I struggle with mobility. The distance from my home to all 3 Cash Points is far too long to walk. A taxi to the village costs £12.00 return. I wish we had a local cash point! Our cafes and amenities often only take cash and when they tell you that, you just want to cry!

As a local resident I am aware f the lack of cash machines and can make appropriate arrangements to obtain cash. HOWEVER, my concern is foe tourists (we are in a major tourist area and on the coast-to-coast walk) and visitors, many foreign, find it hard to get cash and there fore reduce spending in our locality. As a rural community we need as much income as possible – a fact which is overlooked by the banks and regulators.

Malcolm says:
8 June 2018

Two cash points at local BP filling station. Frequently out of cash especially at weekends

Where I live, in a town of about 5,000 people, we have one cashpoint left and no banks. When ours runs dry or is out of order, we have to travel to a neighbouring town, of similar size, to access our own money.

The RBS cashpoint in Msin Street Lennoxtown has been down for over six weeks without any notice on it or any definite word about what is happening.

John Webster says:
9 June 2018

The Natwest Bank In Formby Closed it doors in Oct 2017 thus loosing a cash point.
Now it puts pressure on the local post office where I get cash. Even post offices are closing.
I think the Bosses of these banks have forgotten that joe public bailed them out a few years ago. They all should all be brought to task !! Not everyone banks on line. get real , you are OUR SERVANTS and service comes before profit !!

I wonder if there is milage in getting the Government to tell the Banks that if they want to continue to trade in UK then they MUST provide free ATM’s as part of their services, to allow their customers to access cash. The Banks can divi up the country by agreements among themselves, but their customers MUST come first. If the Banks choose profits over customers, then the Banks should loose their licence to trade in the UK. If they don’t want to profit from serving retail customers and small businesses, then I’m sure there are plenty of smaller banks that are willing to take over from the big fat ones who are forgetting how they grew big. There has to be a regulator who says enoughs enough, and start telling them the standards we expect.

It is not just the cash points but also the ability to pay into the account when bank branches close. I am Treasurer for a social group and frequently have cheques and cash to pay into the account. Luckily, I have 2 branches within a short driving distance but there are always long queues at the desks. The Post Office is even worse. How do small businesses cope? They can’t afford to spend time queuing up during the working day.

Diana Al-Saadi says:
15 June 2018

It’s a problem, no doubt. We have a local store that took over the local newsagent then our local P.O. with a cash point too! For locals it’s a boom as many are elderly and don’t drive and our bus route isn’t too reliable.

I was obliged to change banks as my bank closed down.

Rona says:
15 June 2018

I went into my local branch yesterday to cancel a direct debit.
The cashier wanted to know why I didn’t do internet banking
She clearly values her job. 🤔