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Small businesses struggle with poor ATM provision

More than 200 communities in Britain have poor ATM provisions, or no cash machines at all, affecting small businesses.

Which? Research has stated it is “worried that proposals from LINK – the UK’s largest cash machine network – to lower its fees by 20% could lead to mass closures of free-to-use ATM machines across Britain, hitting already suffering communities even harder”.

The fee in question is paid by banks per withdrawal to maintain the free-to-use ATM machines.

Which?’s research revealed a number of remote areas across the UK, where ATM provision is particularly low – with either poor, or no access at all. With many rural areas already struggling to access cash after bank closures, LINK proposals could place further strain on these communities’ access to free-to-use ATMs.

LINK has said it will encourage operators to keep free machines and to protect free-to-use ATMs that are a kilometre or more from the next nearest free cash machine.

Gareth Shaw, Which? money expert said: “Reducing the free-to-use ATM network would hit consumers who rely on access to cash machines hard.

“These proposals could place a strain on communities across the UK that are already struggling to access the cash they need following mass bank closures. The financial regulator must intervene to avoid this situation getting worse.”

Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) national chairman, said: “This new research shows that the UK’s cash machine network is already failing small businesses, particularly in rural areas and tourist hotspots where cash flow is absolutely vital to local growth. If funding for cashpoint providers is cut, things could rapidly go from bad to worse.

“What’s really worrying about LINK’s proposals is that it’s the cash machine providers with a majority share of the remote ATM market that are most concerned about a potential drop in funding. As is so often the case, it will be rural small businesses that are hit hardest by inadequate investment.”

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