Up to 3,500 cash machines will be supported with a new ‘super premium’ to stay open in remote and deprived areas.
The UK’s largest cash machine network Link will boost payments to operators to £2.75 per cash withdrawal from April 1 as part of their Financial Inclusion Programme.
ATMs are shutting down at the rate of 300 per month, according to consumer site Which?, leaving thousands of people who still rely on notes and coins without access to cash.
Link’s move aims to combat the decline with free-to-use ATMs that are 1km or more away from another eligible, amounting to around 1,000 initially.
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But John Howells, chief executive of Link, expects that this number will rise as ATMs continue to disappear from the UK’s high streets.
“We are delighted to announce this increase in financial support for ATMs in remote and deprived areas that provide a vital service to communities,” he said. “While many consumers are turning to alternative payment methods such as contactless cards, it is vital we continue to provide free access to cash to those who need it.”
While the move has been welcomed, the Federation of Small Businesses’ Mike Cherry insists that only regulatory action can save the ATM onslaught across the country and pointed to Which’s Save our Cashpoints petition to make a difference.
“The Payment Systems Regulator must now intervene and help the industry formulate a long-term strategy for maintaining free access to cash right across the UK,” said FSB’s national chairman.
“Millions of small firms have customers who want to use cash – close to £100 billion is spent in shops using coins and notes every year. When a local cash point is lost, sales often take a direct hit.
“A lot of remote, vulnerable communities – where a high proportion of shoppers want to use cash – are having to battle bank branch closures alongside Link’s cuts to cash machine funding. Reduced cashflow in these local economies hurts footfall on high streets and restricts economic growth.”