/ 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
Jim Marshall says:
15 June 2018

My biggest worry is that there soon won’t be any way that I can deposit actual cash into my account.

What solutions do you all offer?

Back in the days of Abbey National Building Society (now Santander) I used to deposit notes and cheques at one of their ATMs. I think these appeared in the late 1980s.

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Our local branch shut HSBC, as did Britannia/Co op building society. Nearest branch of later is at least an hour away in Bristol, being disabled I cannot get to it .
Our Stroke Club of which I’m chair , bank Nat West closed also meaning Treasurer in her 70s would have to drive 11 miles, pay car park, drive 11 miles back ( 22miles around trip ) . Post office won’t take small change nor give out so we changed to Lloyd’s as Barclays would not take on small account of charitable status & no more than £6,000 per annum “ not worth our while as get no income “.

HANS EIREW says:
15 June 2018

Natwest have closed 5 branches on me since I first opened my account.

Janet Langley says:
15 June 2018

We have a 15 minute drive to our nearest cash point, the only bank branch there has recently closed down and my nearest bank is a 30 minute drive away with parking costs. We have no bus service so public transport is not an option. We have also been without the internet for three weeks and regular Internet breakdowns are common, it’s a very poor service when we have it, so internet banking is difficult

Barclays Bank are closing the only two branches anywhere near me in Lewisham borough South East London. The Forest Hill branch (a 10 minute walk away) is closing on 29th June along with it’s ATM and the Crofton Park Branch ( a 15 minute walk away in the opposite direction ) will close a week later also losing the ATM. Forest Hill is also about to lose it’s Santander Branch and ATM thus leaving a busy shopping area that Lewisham is trying to regenerate without a single high street bank! I do not have access to Internet for banking or direct transport to what will be the closest branches in Sydenham or Lewisham which are both over 3 miles away but my heart goes out especially to the elderly, people with mobility issues, and those with learning difficulties ( some of whom are not permitted to have a bank card ) who regularly use these branches. This is a shameful money making excercise from the very rich banks we bailed out only a few years ago. Not least because the value of the land where these branches are sited will bring in further astronomical revenue when the banks sell them off. It’s criminal.

MICHAEL says:
15 June 2018

Despite what the Banks say , they couldnt give a monkey about customers never have ,never will. Its all to do with PROFIT,PROFIT PROFIT,ANYTHING ELSE IS IMATERIAL

I don’t do on line banking due to being defrauded many times and no bank ever compensating me despite none were my actual fault. Plus I have 17 severe disabilities and I’m partially sighted. I can only get to cash machine when on ambulance transport at hospital as I have no family alive as they all died along with 2 sudden death husbands between ages of 23-42 which left me without any choice at hands of social services forcing me give carers my card and PIN number to get my money do shopping and steal my money straight out of ash point and out of shopping then out of my bag from change and keeping my card and taking it. When care companies finally replaced by police sacking them first same thing happened over and over ascarers refused take me shopping in my wheelchair saying not enough time allowed. Had enough time steal and with 2 carers made it lot easier whilst I’m in shower with one. I did every trick hide money card etc I’ve been good to the carers helping them with food fags petrol as they were from Romania Greece etc then they steal. The social work manager was so infuriated that the police inspector sacked the last company not only for theft but also for threats to kill and violence as I had been reporting them for6 weeks before anyone died that they were leaving people no care on my last tea call before bed calls started and arranging on fb and other sites go out with friends and refusing work and my social work manager ignored all my calls and me telling her, then people started dying and auditors in with 4 dead in 1 afternoon on same auditors and the final toll was 27 in 5 weeks. She axed my care for telling inspector and auditors I had been reporting all this to her, she then also told hmrc that when I had a personal carer who left care company and only did job for 3 weeks as she didn’t declare to company who she worked 1 week for or me that she was terminally ill with severe cancer and was only working stop house repossessed but was too ill to work and she told same social work manager she had leave week after she started before signing any papers for payroll which I paid social services own tax payroll to handle everything for me. I informed them along with social work manager leaving date giving 2 weeks notice but because I had reported her over care company and hmrc had come after social work manager for second time for not informing hmrc that a previous personal carer left and had been overpaid tax and she had received a warning that time, so this time she phoned the carer in question a year after overpaid by £2800 and asked her pay it back which she refused. Then because I had reported her to police inspector along with carers she then reported me to hmrc foroverpayment as fraud which stopped me having any personal carers. My cats been axed and I been left in hospital bed with no care with 17 disabilities no shower no bed change no end of allergies no hot meal nobeing able post letter access my money and constant subjected to physchiatric assessments every time an ot assessment was requested which they came at end of the due time saying s w manager said I can’t have any care so won’t be doing assessment which I recorded them saying and they then illegally made up assessments and my dr wrote letter Nicola Blackwood mp who wrote an initial letter and never heard from her for her whole term in oarliament and all of Oxfordshire is mostly conservatives and the letter my dr wrote to Nicola Blackwood mp about the ot condemning her and calling her a liar the it turned up at my house demanding a copy of it threatening me over it. But surprisingly not one of these people have got in trouble as I’ve no one to help me. I’m left without care. I’ve just lost my dla as I’m long term ill without chance of getting better and haven’t got recent reports in last 6 months as I’ve been in life award with dla as they had no end of medical evididence which they don’t take into account and since multi disciplinary teams who are also specialists in my areas of disabilities have given up on me and reviewed this I cannot give the pip what I can’t get and the medical by an unqualified professional not of even gp qualifications when I’m a severely complex case for the most skilled consultants or professors and my own Drs who home visit 12 yrs plus and this person some nurse with bit of training was aggressive telling me shit my mouth when I was answering questions she asked in my house which she showed no respect just aggression and contempt and I’ve lost my benefit over someone who I’d already advised the pip of my concerns of her not qualified to visit me purely on my complexities not on her. I handled that very carefully and respectfully as did the manager at pip. I was told their would be no medical but she decided their would be there and then. I would have thrown her out had I been so desperate to keep my benefit but I’ve lost it for first time in 29yrs and yet I’m a person who deserves mine. I’m sorry this may seem as if it doesn’t tie in with bank but it goes in with lot of services going inc bank cash points and my bank is on reduced hours keep asking me to leave as they been in complaint numerous times with me last year and took to ombudsman who I accused of siding with bank and they said they wasn’t yet bank was aloud to appeal each stage and change ombudsman and I wasn’t allowed any of these or a review and the bank held up the case 6 months of the 14 months. Then it was on news few weeks ago that ombudsman’s is siding with banks like I knew. My bank keeps phoning me and was threatening me and phoning me constantly whilst at ombudsman and still is currently to leave them or they will force me out. Now they’re forcing me since the announcement on tv about ombudsman siding with banks. They find nothing to resolve recent complaints in.c stating they not listening to calls they promised they would be and where they previously upheld and recent ones have been clear cut they decided they’re not agreeing to anything and I need take my complaints ombudsman knowing perfectly well I’m very depressed to point suicidal with recent events that are extreme and constant crisis’s. The Co op bank had 8 yrs of 5* feedback 2x week at least. They didn’t want me leave then.

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Duncan, you are absolutly right. Clair needs some caring help here.
The biggest problems with computerisation that we all seem to miss is that it has the horrible ability into making us robobic ourselves and forgetting there are real people behind the computor screen…we become just a number ! Well its time it stopped !

Byron Roberts says:
15 June 2018

Post Offices are well placed to help out especially in rural areas and they need as much business as possible to survive. They offer a good range of banking services.

I know the banks are suggesting that a lot of banking is carried out online, but there are some customers who are not computer literate and others who are afraid to because of the high instances of fraud. If the Banks are so worried about the cost of keeping branches open, why don’t they use one building in a town and all the different banks have a counter in it. They could all share the cost. There are enough empty shops big enough to be able to do this and at least those customers who desperately need the facility would have it. It is the elderly and disabled who suffer the disadvantages. Plus it leaves shop keepers vulnerable to theft. What do they do with the days takings when they close up at night?

As a retired bank worker, I must point out that when banks say people prefer using the internet, we the workers had targets to put people on the internet, I believe it was their intention to close branches in the future.
This denies people the choice to communicate with people in a safe environment, especially vulnerable people who are not into computers and technology. Also when you have a financial problem it can be very difficult to sort out.
Also when a cash machine is out of order there may be no other way in certain areas to access money.

Computors and internet banking (I don,t do it , having had a friend telling me that their friend once told him that he could tell him how much was in in accounts easily……the next day he did just that……told him exactly how much he had in every account he held, not knowing beforehand which companys he even had accounts with ! ). and thats before russia etc get involved ! KEEP THE OLD SYSTEM or we learn the VERY VERY hard way . Simple as that. Keep the cash machines, one day we will all need cash again. The hackers can even get into gchq and the pentagon…..FACT. Its a NO BRAINER.

Like it it or not Phil, you bank will be using computerised accounts, so if hackers really can get into GCHQ, then I’m sure they’d also find your bank (and mine) to be dead easy to hack.

PS: I got into the Pentagon once – they let me in for a progress meeting 🙂

Jane says:
15 June 2018

Our bank (Lloyds) closed in May last year. It means that elderly people have to travel into Plymouth to access their bank, or use online services that many people are reluctant to use.

In the past year HSBC have closed the branch where my accounts were held in Bedfordshire then closed my nearest branch in Lincolnshire so that my nearest branch is 7 miles (single trip) away & in a precinct with very little parking nearby as I have mobility problems do you think that I am happy to encourage the corporate greed of HSBC?
I add here that Nat West whom I was going to transfer to have announced that they plan to close their local branch next month
Is there any danger that our apology for a Government will actually earn their bread by Governing & insisting that all banks must get together & agree that one of them will keep a branch open in every community OR fund a transfer all personal banking to the local authority for each area? OR (dare I whisper it?) Nationalise the lot of them having
already partially done so (Lloyds/RBS)

I am worried that they want to make it a cashless society – this terrifies me as I’ve always controlled my money and stayed debt free by taking out cash and using that. I would get myself into debt if I only used debit or credit cards as I wouldn’t be able to keep a track on my spending – it is what I’ve been used to doing for over 50 years!

Our bank, Lloyds closed its branch in Stockton Heath, Warrington and now if we want to see anyone we have to go into Warrington town centre. Although we have other hole in the wall machines we do not have a Lloyds one where you can transfer money from one account to the other, yes I can do that online and very often do, but there are others that do not use online banking and would appreciate a Lloyds bank hole in the wall machine actually in the village. When they closed the branch their hole in the wall vanished at the same time. Not only did we lose our banking facility we lost our building society branch as well, in fact there are no building society branches in Stockton Heath any more, so now we also have to go into town each time we want to put money in or take money out. There is no consideration for their customers at all.

the last bank in the area Natwest peacehaven closed last week, if you want a branch its a round trip of 14 miles, they even took the cash point out as well.
there was 2 natwests, 1 lloyds, and 2 barclays, in just a few years they have all been closed this is a bad joke on customers, they say they are closing branches as customers are useing on-line more, have you ever been in a branch where there was not a que, ever time i go in one there is 7 or more customers waiting to be served. so just who is this person that only uses on-line, because you are to blame for all these branches closing.

There are 2 cashpoints near me withing about 200yds. The problem is that they charge £1.50 to withdraw cash. The next nearest free cashpoints are nearly a mile away in both directions. If you have a disability problem, it will cost you £4 for a daysaver ticket to get there and back. You need to plan your trips out to incorporate shopping and bills paying by bus otherwise it will have cost you between £1.50 to £4.00 to get access to your cash, never mind doing anything else.

People and institutions say do it online.. Problem is it will cost you about £30.00 per month minimum to have a landline and broadband in order to do so, never mind cost of calls. No. I don’t want posts telling me or you that we can do it cheaper because that ain’t the point.

You can’t pay for a Mars bar, a packet of crisps or a pint of milk online without having to spend a lot more in order to get it delivered to you.

I totally hate the idea that it costs you money in so many different ways in order to access and spend your money. Never mind VAT, this is Access Added Tax!

It is affecting business too. Where do you bank and get change?. Keeping money on the premises not a wise thing to do. Post Offices not the ideal solution as many of them are closed too. We are going backwards instead of forward.

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Gillian Cooper says:
15 June 2018

As an older person, I still much prefer branch banking and have told my bank – NatWest – that many times. My two nearest branches have been closed and my account has been switched to a city centre branch which is very difficult for me personally to access, so I use my local village Post Office, which now offers limited services for several banks, and is doing good business on their account, demolishing the banks’ bleats that the branches were not being used. (I frequently had to queue at my nearest bank so that excuse does not hold water.) I’ve had unpleasant experiences using cash machines so use my Post Office whenever I can. It is also an off-licence and village shop, and the beauty of it is, apart from pleasant, efficient service, help and advice, the banking facility is offered whenever they are open for business, which means from early morning to late at night seven days a week! In that respect, it is obviously much better than a bank branch, and the cash limit on my card is the same as at a cash machine. My only worry is, how long will it remain in business? It is thriving now and long may it do so.

Dr `judith says:
15 June 2018

It is even more of a scandal the Nat west have closed so many branches. I am registered disabled and was safe to park right near the Kidlington branch outside Oxford now tragically closed. Its so arrogant to tell people that one in the shopping traffic free centre is being enlarged. We can’t just walk there with people rushing and pushing and even cycling past risking our very survival