The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been urged to ensure all ATMs operate as ’free to use’ during the COVID-19 lockdown, in a collaborative letter involving the Petrol Retailers’ Association.

“Never has the widespread availability of cash been so important, particularly that which is free to access,” said Brian Madderson, chairman of the PRA which has contributed to and signed a letter to the Chancellor alongside Positive Money, Rural Services Network, Responsible Finance, and Note Machine, in order to encourage the Treasury to put access to cash legislation as an immediate priority.

The PRA have previously written to the Chancellor regarding this issue, leading to the announcement during the March Budget of access to cash legislation being brought forward, but the collaborative group have said that there is not the time to wait for this to happen, and the Government must act immediately.

They are asking for the Government to reverse the cuts made to the interchange fee paid by banks to ATM providers for cash withdrawals for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, as without this, ATM providers will have to stop their delivery operations, closing a majority of their machines and switching the remaining ones to pay to use. The coronavirus outbreak has further impacted ATM infrastructure, as the providers have seen revenues cut in half over the last two weeks due to the lockdown.

Madderson continued: “Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people depend on cash for their daily lives, such as for food that is being delivered for them, so making this service free to access is essential for minimising the impact of COVID-19 on them and their communities.”