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Families in rural areas face eight-mile trips to withdraw money from ATMs

The Gazette Staff

People in rural areas face driving eight miles, or long bus rides, to find free ‘hole-in-the-wall’ machines – amid fears Britain is sleepwalking into becoming a cashless society.

Research by consumer group Which? found many communities risk being cut off from cash after the loss of thousands of free ATMs and local bank branches.

The threat to accessing notes is a particular worry for the elderly and those on a tight budget, who prefer to use real cash for purchases and to pay bills. 

In theory, local post offices provide free access to cash – but it emerged on Monday that from January, Barclays will no longer let customers withdraw money from the nation’s post offices.

People in rural areas face driving eight miles, or long bus rides, to find free 'hole-in-the-wall' machines – amid fears Britain is sleepwalking into becoming a cashless society (stock photo)

People in rural areas face driving eight miles, or long bus rides, to find free 'hole-in-the-wall' machines – amid fears Britain is sleepwalking into becoming a cashless society (stock photo)

People in rural areas face driving eight miles, or long bus rides, to find free ‘hole-in-the-wall’ machines – amid fears Britain is sleepwalking into becoming a cashless society (stock photo)

A Which? analysis of data from Link, which runs the UK’s biggest cashpoint network, found that residents in almost one in eight rural communities that have lost their last free cashpoint must travel at least 0.6 miles to their nearest free ATM.

A spokesman said: ‘In the most extreme examples, people face journeys of more than half an hour on public transport to reach a free cashpoint. Alarmingly, some of these… have closed despite being given ‘protected’ status by Link.’

Which? said 194 ‘protected machines’ closed between January 2018 and July 2019. 

Gargunnock, in central Scotland, lost its high street ATM, meaning the nearest free option is 5.6 miles away. 

The threat to accessing notes is a particular worry for the elderly and those on a tight budget, who prefer to use real cash for purchases and to pay bills (stock photo)

The threat to accessing notes is a particular worry for the elderly and those on a tight budget, who prefer to use real cash for purchases and to pay bills (stock photo)

The threat to accessing notes is a particular worry for the elderly and those on a tight budget, who prefer to use real cash for purchases and to pay bills (stock photo)

The area is served by a mobile Post Office, open just nine hours a week. And residents of Naseby, Northamptonshire, lost their last ATM, meaning a seven-minute drive, or 20-minute journey by public transport, to use a free one 3.7 miles away.

In Cerrigydrudion, North Wales, residents saw their last free machine convert to charging fees and must travel 8.4 miles, which is a 13-minute drive or 40 minutes by bus to access their next free option. The area has a nearby Post Office, or fee-charging ATMs.

The editor of Which? Money, Jenny Ross, said: ‘The Government must intervene by introducing legislation that guarantees consumers can continue to access and pay with cash…’

Banking body UK Finance said it was ‘committed to ensuring access to cash remains free and widely accessible for those that continue to need it.’

Source : Mail Online

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