A Labour MP is calling for a review of the decision to change how free ATMs are funded, claiming it could create a “cash machine desert” in some areas.
Ged Killen has written to the UK Government’s Payment Systems Regulator, asking for a full market review of ATMs following Link’s plan to cut the fees paid to cash machine operators.
Link plans a four-year phased cut totalling 20 per cent and Mr Killen claims this could threaten the viability of 30,000 - 45 per cent - of the UK’s free to use ATMs but Link has said it is committed to protecting free access to cash.
The Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP said: “I have written to the Payment Systems Regulator, the Government regulator which oversees ATMs pressing them to conduct a full market review following Link’s decision to cut the interchange fee.
“Scotland is expected to be one of the worst regions of the UK affected by Link’s decision. There are already more cash machines in one corridor in the House of Commons than on the whole of Cambuslang Main Street in my constituency. I do not believe the public will accept any further reductions.
“Following the most recent round of bank closures by RBS and now this decision from Link, I am concerned that the loss of financial infrastructure on our high streets threatens to leave many people across the country excluded from free and easy to use financial services.
“Benefit claimants, the self-employed and those who rely on cash will be most affected by these changes. It can cost as much as £2.99 per withdrawal and this places an extra cost burden on those who predominantly use cash.”
He added: “Considering the widespread concern raised regarding Link’s decision, I would encourage the regulator to show its teeth and engage in a full market review of the effects of these proposed changes.
“Many ATM providers will be taking financial decisions now in light of Link’s changes and will not wait until the fees are cut in July, the Government and the regulator must act quickly to prevent the UK’s ATM network from being desolated and parts of Scotland becoming cash machine deserts.”
Link has previously said it will “do whatever it takes to retain free access to cash for all communities” and plans to publicly monitor the country reporting on free ATM availablity, highlighting any areas where this is lost and using its Financial Inclusion Programme to redress this.
The company said the fee cut would “rebalance” the network, making sure new ATMs are not installed where they are not needed.