Consumer body warns of access in North to free-to-use ATMs

New report flags reducing access at faster rate than anywhere in the United Kingdom

Since January 2018, 296 free-to-use ATMs in the North have closed or started charging fees. File photograph: iStock

Since January 2018, 296 free-to-use ATMs in the North have closed or started charging fees. File photograph: iStock

 

People in Northern Ireland are losing access to free-to-use ATMs at a faster rate than anywhere else in the UK, with many rural and poorer communities hardest hit according to a new report.

Since January 2018, 296 free-to-use ATMs in the North have closed or started charging fees.

According to the independent consumer body Which? there were previously an estimated 1,870 free-to-use ATMs across the North but by May of this year that number had fallen to 1,574.

This represents a 15.8 per cent reduction in the number of free-to-use ATMs in the North which, the consumer body says, is the highest percentage reduction compared to any other part of the UK.

 Which? says the reduction in free cash access hits those in lowest household income groups the hardest and research suggests that consumers in the North are more dependent on using cash for purchases and bills than in other parts of the UK.

Jenny Ross, Which? money editor, said: “We know that people in more deprived communities tend to rely heavily on cash, so it’s deeply concerning that those who can least afford it are being hit with the extra burden of hefty fees to access their own money as free cashpoints close at an alarming rate.

“The government and regulators must urgently get a grip on these rapid changes to the cash landscape and guarantee people across the UK can continue to access this important payment method for as long as it is required.”