Senior MPs and businesses are calling on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to act “decisively” by allocating more money to protect access to cash in this week’s Autumn Statement.
MPs from across four political parties have now joined forces with leading business associations and the country’s two largest ATM providers- NCR Atleos and NoteMachine- to urge Hunt to save the 37,000 cash machines at risk of closure or conversion and ensure they remain free to use.
In a written letter addressed to Hunt (seen by Asian Trader), the MPs and business groups have united to call for decisive action on the provision of services is needed to ensure the free-to-use ATM network is maintained in the long term, so that it remains available to the millions of people who rely on cash.
The letter stated that there is significant appetite for cash to remain a core pillar of the UK’s payment landscape, with recent research showing nearly 70 per cent of the public would oppose the UK becoming a fully cashless society.
“Despite this continued need, the UK’s cash infrastructure is under threat due to bank branch closures
and successive cuts to the funding for the free-to-use ATM network which makes up nearly 80 per cent of the
UK’s access points. 14,400 free-to-use ATMs across the UK have been lost since 2018, with another
37,000 now at risk of closure or conversion to pay-to-use.
“While the Treasury’s cash access policy statement earlier this year kicked off the process, the job to protect cash is far from finished. Much more is needed from the Government and the regulator to ensure the UK’s free cash network is adequately funded and protected.”
Signatories of the letter include Sir Peter Bottomley, the veteran Tory backbencher who as Britain’s longest-serving MP is the Father of the House, Wendy Chamberlain, the Liberal Democrat chief whip, and Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, a Labour peer along with six members of the SNP, including members of its Westminster frontbench team.
Business group and trade bodies like Association of Convenience Stores, the Petrol Retailers Association and ATM operators NCR Atleos and NoteMachine are also backing the demand.
This follows a recent report which highlights that access to cash has now reached a “critical” point, business leaders have warned after the loss of almost 14,400 cash points in the past five years. A further 37,000 are thought to be at risk of closure or conversion to a pay-to-use model, raising concern over the long-term survival of paper notes and coins, and the impact of digital payments on the most vulnerable in the society.