This is how many free ATMs each West Sussex area has lost since 2019, according to new data

New data shows that consumers around the country are at risk of losing free access to cash and banking services indefinitely - if regulators and politicians don’t act to protect them - as the number of free-to-use (FTU) ATMs continues to decline due to lack of funding, and bank branches continue to close.

Data from LINK reveals that the UK has suffered a rapid decline in free-to-use (FTU) cash services since the last general election in 2019, with some regions experiencing over a 30% reduction in FTU ATMs.

This is a UK-wide issue, with regions such as the Vale of Glamorgan (-33%), Bristol (-32%), Hertfordshire (-28%), Surrey (-26%), Leicestershire (-23%) and Greater Manchester (-22%) experiencing the highest rate of free cash decline.

West Sussex has also seen a serious decline in free ATMs, losing 25% since 2019.

The data shows that in urban areas such as Glasgow, the most densely populated city in Scotland, over 70 FTU ATMs have been lost and converted to pay-to-use (PTU), depriving the area of free cash withdrawal services.

The centre of tourism, hospitality and entertainment in the nation's capital, the City of London and Westminster has lost 270 FTU machines. In west London’s largest borough Hillingdon, the second hardest hit area in London, residents have lost 100 FTU cash machines, the data indicates.

Rural areas are also heavily impacted according to the data. The constituencies of West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine lost 34% of its FTU machines and west Suffolk lost 44%. Rural areas suffer heavily due to having to travel significant distances to the nearest bank or ATM to access cash for free.

Research shows that nearly 70% of the UK public would oppose a cashless society and during challenging economic times, cash remains a useful budgeting tool for the 3.8 million adults living in financial difficulty.

Not only this, but 46% of small businesses in the UK use cash on a monthly basis making the UK’s journey to becoming a cash desert a critical economic threat.

The Association of Convenience Stores launched an online tool last year which reveals the change in ATM provision in every constituency across the UK.

Steve Makaritis, chief executive of NoteMachine, the UKs second largest ATM provider said: “The decline in free-to-use ATMs across the UK threatens access to essential banking services, affecting both urban and rural communities.

“NoteMachine, along with many others in the industry, has long been campaigning for urgent tangible action from regulators and policymakers to preserve cash services, which remain vital for millions of individuals and small businesses.

“We must prioritise solutions that ensure equitable access to banking services for all across the UK.”

James Lowman, chief executive of The Association of Convenience Stores added: “The loss of free to use ATMs over the last five years continues to be felt in communities across the UK.

“Convenience stores have strived to provide access to cash to customers where bank branches have closed their doors in huge numbers, but many are operating this service at a loss.

“The interchange fee must be looked at again to ensure that we can provide a sustainable network of ATMs for the millions of customers that rely on cash every day.”

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