Which? ramps up campaign to protect cash network

Which? is urging the UK’s eight largest retail banks to publicly commit to maintaining cash access for the millions of people who still rely on it.

The latest analysis from the consumer champion shows that 13,000 cash machines have disappeared in just three years and nearly 10 million people are not ready – or able – to give up using cash.

Last week Link, the UK’s largest cash machine network, warned that unless action was taken the number of ATMs in the UK could halve in the next two years.

Which? Chief Executive Anabel Hoult has written to the eight largest retail banks in the UK calling on them to take immediate action to safeguard access to cash.

“We’ve given the banks a two-week deadline to confirm that they will continue membership of two vital industry schemes, Link and the Post Office Banking Framework, until legislation comes into force,” she says.

The slow pace of progress towards legislation to protect access to cash has created a dangerous vacuum, believes Hoult, in which cash machine and bank branch closures continue apace with little scrutiny or oversight to ensure the changes meet the needs of consumers as well as business.

Since the start of 2020, 3,300 free-to-use cash machines have closed across the UK. The overall number of ATMs in the UK has also fallen by 13,000 in the last three years, from 67,300 to 54,400.

The Bank of England yesterday stepped into the breach, calling on the UK’s banks to reconsider branch and ATM closures during the Coronavirus lockdown.