Almost one in 10 cash machines vanishing from East Devon

PUBLISHED: 06:30 14 May 2019

Cash being drawn from an ATM. Picture: PA Archive/PA Images

Cash being drawn from an ATM. Picture: PA Archive/PA Images

PA Archive/PA Images

Are you one of around eight million in the country who still use cash?

Are you one of around eight million in the country who still use cash?

Figures show one in ten cash machines - or ATMS - have disappeared from East Devon's high streets in the last two years, amid warnings the UK's cash system is 'falling apart'.

At the end of 2017, there were around 230 ATMs - according to data from the cash machine network Link - this has now fallen to 208, as of February this year.

The number of free-to-use cash points has also gone down from 179 in 2017 to 171 two years later.

An independent review published in March found that around eight million adults - 17 per cent of the population - were still reliant on cash and would struggle to cope in an entirely digital economy.

These included people in rural communities, those on a low income who may struggle to budget without cash, and older people or people with disabilities who rely on cash for their independence.

Natalie Ceeney, chair of the Access to Cash Review, said: "There are worrying signs that our cash system is falling apart.

"ATM and bank branch closures are just the tip of the iceberg - underneath there is a huge infrastructure which is becoming increasingly unviable as cash use declines.

"We need to guarantee people's right to access cash, and ensure that they can still spend it."

A recent report by consumer watchdog Which? found almost 1,700 previously-free cash machines had begun charging users between January and March of this year.

Cardtronics, the UK's biggest cash machine operator, blamed a recent move to cut the fee operators receive from banks for providing free cash.

Link had been planning to reduce the fee from 25p per withdrawal to 20p over the course of four years. So far, the fee has been reduced to 23p, with Link stating it had cancelled the next phased reduction.

A spokeswoman for Cardtronics said: "We have been forced into charging a fee for cash withdrawals on some of our machines where Link's cuts have left us with no choice.

"As banks continue to execute their strategy of branch closures nationwide, this leaves independent ATM deployers to fill the gap by providing local cash access for communities.

"Worryingly, vulnerable people and rural communities are disproportionately affected as the cost of cash access is passed on to consumers."

A spokesman for Link said the UK continued to have an excellent ATM network, with 50,000 free-to-use machines - 10,000 more than in 2010.

He continued: "As more consumers use alternative payment methods to cash, it's important that we continue to have a broad, extensive UK-wide free-to-use network.

"That means fewer ATMs in built-up areas where they are often over-serviced and protecting ATMs in rural and remote areas."

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