News

The poorest communities are losing cash machines at the fastest rate

A Which? study finds one in 10 free-to-use cash machines in Britain has closed or started charging fees in the last 17 months. It’s one of the reasons why Big Issue vendors have started using contactless

The poorest communities in the UK are being hit the hardest by the loss of free-to-use cash machines, with one in 10 being axed or charging fees in the last 17 months.

A study released today, carried out by Which?, found that 8,700 machines have gone in that time, but only 223 were in the wealthiest areas.

By contrast, the most deprived areas lost 979 machines with a further 15 per cent set to go if network operator NoteMachine carries out plans to start charging fees on 1,500 ATMs.

Great Yarmouth was the location where the loss was felt the most, with almost half the cash machines there charging a fee, while there have been significant increases in Vauxhall, Birmingham Hodge Hill and Nuneaton.

These charges soon add up, particularly for those on the lowest household incomes who still use cash – 78 per cent in this group still use cash three times a week.

The issue was flagged up in last year’s Access to Cash Review but Which? is asking new Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid to introduce a minimum service guarantee that cash will be accessible and continue to be accepted.

They said: “We know that people in more deprived communities tend to rely heavily on cash, so it’s deeply concerning that those who can least afford it are being hit with the extra burden of hefty fees to access their own money as free cashpoints close at an alarming rate.

“The government and regulators must urgently get a grip on these rapid changes to the cash landscape and guarantee people across the UK can continue to access this important payment method for as long as it is required.”

In response to the Which? study a spokesperson for the Payment Systems Regulator said: “Banks need to make sure their customers can access their cash when and where they need it.

“It is important that banks engage closely with local communities and their customers to understand their needs for cash so that well designed and suitably tailored solutions can be put in place to meet those needs.”

Cash’s decline in accessibility and use is one of the reasons why The Big Issue has launched a cashless revolution by working with iZettle to allow our vendors to sell the magazine with contactless card readers.

Our vendors were becoming financially excluded by only accepting cash, with one in five Brits ditching notes and coins entirely while contactless was used for 5.6 billion payments last year.

Take the experiences of Emma Ford, 46, who sells The Big Issue outside London Victoria Station. She said: “So many people never carry cash so I had to get the card reader, for me it is a big plus because we had to make a move to keep up.”

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Liz Truss blames the 'deep state' and the 'establishment' for her downfall. Here's why she's wrong
liz truss
Politics

Liz Truss blames the 'deep state' and the 'establishment' for her downfall. Here's why she's wrong

'It's an epidemic': 1.4 million workers trapped in insecure jobs are stuck in precarious rented homes
insecure work and insecure rented homes impact life decisions
Employment

'It's an epidemic': 1.4 million workers trapped in insecure jobs are stuck in precarious rented homes

Long-term sickness cannot be fixed by tightening 'harsh' disability benefits system, experts warn
long term sickness/ ill
Benefits

Long-term sickness cannot be fixed by tightening 'harsh' disability benefits system, experts warn

Thousands could be owed up to £12k from DWP in backdated PIP payments. Here's what you need to know
money/ pip backdated payments
Social Justice

Thousands could be owed up to £12k from DWP in backdated PIP payments. Here's what you need to know

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know