A UK banking industry pledge to work with local communities to ensure that Britain continue to have free access to cash has been met with cynicism by the ATM trade group.

UK Finance, the banking and financial services sector trade association said it will engage with others to develop an approach for how the industry could work with local authorities to help communities to identify and report gaps in cash provision.

It will also map the range of ways consumers can access cash, such as through bank branches, the Post Office, ATMs and cashback from retailers.

The development came as a new Which? study found that one in seven people in Scotland were left unable to use their debit or credit card due to an IT or system crash in the last year.

And the Herald revealed the number of cash machines in Scotland has disappeared at a rate of 32 a month in the 11 months to April.

Stephen Jones, chief executive of UK Finance, said: “Today the banking and finance industry is setting out a clear statement of intent and a series of practical next steps to ensure that cash will remain widely accessible and free for those that need it to help manage their finances and pay for goods and services.”

But the ATM Industry Association, the non-profit trade group, which warned nearly one in five of Scotland's existing free to access cash machines are expected to introduce charges to customers in the next 12 months was sceptical about the UK Finance comments.

READ MORE: Scots pay price as one in seven can't use bank cards due to IT failures

ATMIA’s Ron Delnevo said: "Promises to work with 'local authorities' does not in any way meet the test of being a viable solution to access to cash for the tens of millions of UK residents who want to use cash, rather than just the few million who need to use cash.

"It is clear that Westminster needs to pass legislation in 2019 to guarantee the future of the LINK ATM Network and free access to cash at ATMs in every community in the UK.

"Failure to pass such legislation will mean cash is threatened with extinction, the same fate that has befallen UK bank branches”

At Westminster Moray Conservative MP Douglas Ross has today secured a debate raising concern about cash machine closures across his area.

It comes as a row erupted as cash machines in Lossiemouth ran out of cash at the weekend after the closure of a local Bank of Scotland branch.


Research from trade association UK Finance found last week that one in 10 UK adults, or about 5.4 million people, now rarely use cash at all.

This is a jump of two million people compared with 2017, when 3.4 million rarely used cash.

Meanwhile, 4% of consumers mainly used cash for their spending in 2018 – equating to 1.9 million people who mainly spend using cash.

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) policy and advocacy chairman Martin McTague said: “Cash remains a vital back-up for when payment card systems fail.”

READ MORE: One in five cash machines to charge in a year

He continued: “Action is needed on two fronts. First off, we have to improve the resilience and reach of our digital payments infrastructure in the UK – that includes country-wide access to reliable broadband.

“Second, we need to maintain our cash infrastructure for as long as people want and need it.”

Caroline Wayman, chief executive of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) said: “Last year the Financial Ombudsman Service saw a large increase in current account complaints and high-profile IT banking failures were a large part of it.

“In some cases we found that banks hadn’t done enough to make up for the impact that IT failures can have on customers.”