Leeds has lost 15 free-to-use cash machines in just six months, amid warnings that the UK’s cash system is “falling apart”.
There were approximately 683 free cash machines in Leeds at the end of September 2018, according to data from the cash machine network Link. But the latest figures show this had fallen to 668 by February. Overall, there are were around 769 cash machines in Leeds in February, including those that charge a fee for withdrawals, down from 802 in September. The data is collected by parliamentary constituency, meaning some cash machines could be in a neighbouring local authority.
An independent review into the accessibility of cash in the UK published in March warned that millions of people could be left behind if the country “sleepwalks into a cashless society”. The report found that around 8 million adults were still reliant on cash and would struggle to cope in an entirely digital economy. These included people in rural communities, those on a low income who may struggle to budget without cash, and older people or people with disabilities who rely on cash for their independence.
Natalie Ceeney, chair of the Access to Cash Review, said: “There are worrying signs that our cash system is falling apart. ATM and bank branch closures are just the tip of the iceberg – underneath there is a huge infrastructure which is becoming increasingly unviable as cash use declines. We need to guarantee people’s right to access cash, and ensure that they can still spend it.”
A spokesman for Link said the UK continued to have an excellent ATM network, with 50,000 free-to-use machines. He added: “As more consumers use alternative payment methods to cash, it’s important that we continue to have a broad, extensive UK-wide free-to-use network. That means fewer ATMs in built-up areas where they are often over-serviced and protecting ATMs in rural and remote areas.”