Shona Robison MSP for Dundee City East and Graeme Dey MSP for Angus South have welcomed plans by the Treasury to protect the availability of cash machines which have seen an unprecedented decline.
The decline in free to use ATMS is especially worrying given the disproportionate affect this has on vulnerable groups and rural communities.
The Treasury is considering laws similar to those recently imposed in Sweden, which require all banks with a certain amount of deposits to offer cash services. Under the new rules, Swedish lenders who do not offer widespread access to cash across the country will face fines.
Notemachine, one of the largest providers of ATMs, has noted that as a result of the decline in free to use ATMs in Dundee City East, there has been a 36.34% rate of withdrawal retention, with most recent data showing withdrawals of around £8.7m in comparison to £13.6m for the previous 12 months.
Angus has seen a 31% withdrawal retention over the last 12 months with withdrawals falling from £7.2m to £5m.
These figures do not include other ATM providers or local bank closures and the subsequent loss of services, which will further impact on people’s access to cash.
The government committed to legislate to protect access to cash at the 2019 Budget. Since then, the COVID-19 crisis has worsened its availability and accelerated the collapse of the UK’s already fragile cash infrastructure.
Given the average transaction amount is £10 and £20, a surcharge on top of this hits the most vulnerable consumers hard, especially in rural and deprived areas
Even before COVID-19, hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people depended on cash to go about their daily lives. This is particularly the case in rural areas which have a much older population and where alternative cash point facilities can be many miles away. Access to cash is quite literally a lifeline for those needing others to food shop on their behalf, whether elderly, vulnerable of self-isolating. Careful budgeting, for which cash is by far the easiest to budget with, is hugely important as employees and the self-employed and sole traders lose income.
Studies have also shown that pay to use ATMs deflect economic activity and consumers elsewhere, away from the locality.
This comes at a time when local businesses are struggling and the question of how we ensure a post-COVID-19 economic recovery is top of the agenda.
MSP for Dundee City East Shona Robison said:
“It is important that services many vulnerable people rely on are maintained and strengthened. The decrease in ATMs and the rise in charging are of real concern to many of my constituents in Dundee at these times.
Action needs to be taken to ensure that those already disadvantaged are not further disadvantaged, for many these charges mean making a decision of what to buy or not to buy when shopping for essentials”
Commenting Graeme Dey MSP for Angus South said:
“I am encouraged that progress appears to be being made with the UK Government on this issue.
“People living in Angus South, made up as it is of four towns and a large rural area, often have a limited choice as to where they may access their money.
“And this can have a knock on effect when it comes to where they spend, disadvantaging smaller local businesses.
“If more cash machines capable of accepting deposits were to be available in constituencies such as mine, I am sure that would be good news for many small businesses and charities.”