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RBS promises to install free cash machines

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28/09/2006

The Royal Bank of Scotland is placing 300 free-to-use cash machines in poor communities to improve their access to cash. Andrew Partridge reports  
Many of the most deprived communities in the UK currently have restricted access to free-to-use cash machines, with many people in those areas forced to use machines that charge for withdrawals.

Citizens Advice recently warned that many poor communities were becoming free ATM ‘deserts’, with banks closing branches and with free machines being replaced by charging ATMs. Of the 54,000 cash machines in the UK, only 22,000 are free-to-use. ATMs that charge currently cost about £1.50 for a withdrawal.

Yet RBS is attempting to tackle the lack of access to free ATMs by putting some 300 free-to-use machines into the UK’s poorer communities where there are currently no free ATMs.

RBS said it was seeking the advice and support from relevant MPs, credit unions and community leaders, to ensure that the most appropriate locations in the UK benefit. It is also inviting people to nominate areas that they think qualify for a free machine on its website.-

In the past banks have blamed high maintenance charges as the reason for not installing more free-to-use ATMs, however, RBS said it had now found a way to reduce these costs. It will use the same machines as Hanco – its subsidiary that charges for withdrawals – however the new free ATMs will display signs telling people cash withdrawal is free.

Gordon Pell, chief executive of retail markets at RBS, says: “The initiative is designed to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society, the elderly, disabled, those of limited financial means or whose benefits constitute all or the bulk of their income, have free access to their cash close to their point of need.”

“By working in conjunction with local MPs, local authorities, credit unions and the communities they represent, to identify potential sites, the poorest areas in the UK will soon have free access to their cash, via machines located in their local area.”

Other banks could soon follow RBS in installing more free-to-use machines, with HSBC also currently looking at the issue.
 

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