Fears for future of free cash machines in Scotland

Scottish Labour MP Ged Killen has demanded a full review of plans to change cash machine funding, warning that they threaten 45 per cent of the UK's free-to- use cash machines.

There are fears for 30,000 free UK ATMs. Photograph: Ian Rutherford

Killen outlined his demand in a letter to the UK government’s Payment Systems Regulator, the body which oversees the running of ATMs.

His concerns have been prompted by a proposal by LINK, the UK’s biggest ATM network, which plans to cut the fee that card providers like banks and building societies pay to machine operators every time a customer withdraws cash.

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The plan is for a 20 per cent reduction in the fee from 25p to 20p, a change which Killen said threatened the viability of 30,000 free ATMs.

Killen said: “Scotland is expected to be one of the worst regions of the UK effected 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.”

He added: “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.”

 A spokesman for the Payments System Regulator said: “Our ultimate goal is to make sure the UK has an ATM network that is sustainable, works for consumers and provides widespread free access to cash. Our work is delivering that. At our prompting LINK has made changes that will better protect consumers’ access to free-to-use cash machines.”

He added: “We will be keeping a very close eye on progress.”