Customers left short changed by closure of ATMs says MP

Tuesday September 5th 2023

Dalkeith High Street

Dalkeith High Street.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Customers have been left short-changed by the closure of nearly half of the free cash machines across Midlothian, according to it’s MP Owen Thompson.

The number of free to use cash machines in the area has fallen from 79 in 2018 to just 47 in June this year – a 40 percent drop, according to new research.

Thompson said access to cash was in a ‘critical’ situation and urged the UK Government to protect cash and maximise payment choice for companies and consumers.

He said: “Cash machine are a vital lifeline for some people. ATMs provide essential financial services to individuals by providing access to cash, balance and account information and some other functions.

“Elderly and vulnerable people in Midlothian still rely heavily on these machines. We need increased funding for independent cash machines.

“There are fears about the long-term survival of paper notes and coins. This is now reaching a critical stage where we should seek to maximise payment choice for people.

“Cash is still important as a budgeting tool for so many. Some people sadly are financially vulnerable and digitally excluded and we must make sure they are not left behind by a headlong plunge towards a cashless society.”

At the beginning of June 2023 there were 49,421 cash machines in the UK, 78% of which were free to use. The total number of ATMs in the UK peaked in 2015 and has fallen each year since then. A further 37,000 are thought to be at risk of closure or conversion to a pay-to-use model.

New laws are set to see banks forced to provide customers with free access to cash within three miles of their homes. They will also be forbidden from closing branches without any alternative provisions to ensure that physical cash can be used.

However, Rishi Sunak last week insisted it would not be appropriate to require all shops to accept cash, despite fears the switch to electronic banking could leave some customers isolated.

In August, NatWest reportedly had granted itself “sweeping new powers” to limit cash withdrawals and deposits, fuelling warnings that banks are forcing customers towards a “cashless society”.


ATMs in Midlothian All ATMS Free to use ATMs
July 2018 84 79
January 2021 71 56
September 2022 65 51
June 2023 67 47
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