The passing of new legislation to ensure a minimum level of free access to cash, ensuring people can continue to conveniently withdraw and deposit cash following the rapid rate of bank branch and ATM closures, has been welcomed by The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

Under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2023, The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will be granted powers to stop banks and building societies from closing cash access services if there is no suitable alternative within a reasonable distance. The government has said it expects details to be confirmed in a policy statement “no later than the end of September”.

ACS said it welcomed the passing of the legislation but remains concerned about the increasing number of convenience retailers being forced to switch from free-to-use to charged ATMs as a result of rising costs faced by ATM operators.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Cash continues to be an integral payment option for millions of individuals in the UK, serving as a favoured means of financial management for many customers. Convenience retailers are committed to playing their part in offering ATM services to customers locally, and we welcome the measures aimed at ensuring the sustainability of the ATM network. We are continuing to call for the government to review the viability of interchange fees so that convenience retailers can continue to offer free access to cash, rather than switching to a pay-to-use model.”

In April ACS launched a tool which reveals the change in ATM provision in every constituency across the UK. The new ATM Tracker provides information on

  • how the total number of ATMs in each constituency has changed since 2018;
  • how the split between free to use and charged ATMs has changed since 2018; and
  • how many people there are for every one ATM in each constituency.

The tool reveals that across the UK, the total number of ATMs has dropped by more than 20% since 2018. Figures from the most recent Local Shop Report show that 44% of retailers currently provide a free to use ATM, with 18% operating a charged ATM.