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Let them have free cash machines

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13/12/2006

Non-charging cash machines are to be placed in poorer areas of the country, so that less wealthy holders of UK current accounts have equal access to free banking facilities.

The promise follows a report put together by the Treasury Select Committee (TSC) into the rapid rise of fee-charging ATMs. Just under half of the UK’s 58,000 cash machines charge an average £1.50 for withdrawals now.

The pledge to instal the cash machines in areas where the less wealthy have their UK current accounts was made after the TSC heard from witnesses that charging cash machines were “dispropotionately” hurting the poor. There was also evidence presented that banks and building societies have been closing branches in poorer areas.

John McFall MP, chairperson of the committee, said: “Boosting the number of free cash machines for the benefit of less well-off holders of UK current accounts is a huge step forward in our campaign for financial inclusion.

“It will use market forces that already shape the deployment of free cash machines to achieve and sustain an important public policy objective.”

Citizens Advice welccomed the proposals. “Not having free access to money in their UK current accounts hits poorer people hard, forcing them to travel miles to the nearest free machine or to pay to access their cash,” said Teresa Perchard, Citizens Advice director of policy.

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