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London ATMs gobble up £18m of your cash in fees

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Londoners pay £18m a year in ATM fees to access their own money, a report reveals.

An investigation has revealed there are 6,888 cash machines in London and while 5,239 are free to use, 1,649 are fee-paying.

Consumers are charged around £1.70 to withdraw their money but some machines charge up to £10 for each withdrawal, meaning collectively around £18.5m of fees are charged for the privilege.

According to the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) ‘cash for access’ report, convenience is a big factor when it comes to why Londoners still choose to use fee-charging cash machines.

This particularly affects those with limited mobility, the elderly or those who are carers where they’re restricted from travelling far. And those on low incomes often use cash for budgeting, so they too are disproportionately affected by the fees.

In 2006, there were 1,707 ‘super output areas’ that did not have a free cash machine within a 1km area and the report reveals that there are still four of these areas, located in Bromley, Hackney, Harrow and Havering.

High street banks have traditionally provided most of the free cash machines but the GLA said that over the past two years, over 40 bank branches have closed, clearly affecting access to free ATMs.

As a result, the GLA made a number of recommendations which it hopes will be taken on board by the Mayor of London, including: major developments should include suitable provision for free cash machines, to promote the inclusion of free ATMs in public buildings and that Transport for London should ensure there are free-to-use machines where possible on the London Underground, London Overground, TfL Rail and DLR stations.

The report author, London assembly member, Shaun Bailey, said: Contactless and online payment technology may be the future, but there are still many Londoners who rely on cash to get by.

“With bank branches closing and fee-charging machines becoming the norm it is no surprise Londoners are spending £18m on cash withdrawals.

“It is expensive to be poor – fee-charging machines should be a convenience not a daily requirement. Lack of access disproportionately affects low-income groups, the disabled, and the elderly.

“The Mayor needs to ensure new developments have access to free cash, and encourage public buildings to include free cash machines.”

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