The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) have welcomed the Scottish Affairs Committee report on Access to Financial Services which urges LINK to cancel the next planned cut in interchange fees for cash machine operators.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including calls for the government to seek a commitment from banks that they will not leave any town in Scotland without a bank branch.

It suggests that if banks refuse to make this commitment that the Government should consider introducing legislation to prevent closures and ensure access to essential banking services.

LINK cancelled its January 2020 cut and postponed the planned 2021 cut, pending a review on the impact of the 2018 and 2019 fee reductions.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “Convenience stores play an essential role in providing access to cash through ATMs, with bank branch closures resulting in many stores being the only place where local people can draw out money. Interchange fee cuts and the high cost of business rates have left some retailers with machines that have been switched from being free to use to a charged model which are unpopular with customers and unfairly penalise those why rely on cash every day.”

Scottish Grocers’ Federation policy and public affairs officer Luke McGarty said: “Scottish Grocers’ Federation welcome the publication of the Scottish Affairs Committee’s Access to Cash in Scotland report. The closure of the last bank in town, cuts to the interchange fee and ATMs being shut down are impacting on the ability of Scottish convenience retailers to do business and to serve their local communities. The effect of the ‘war on cash’ also extends to customers given that 76% who shop at Scottish convenience stores still prefer to pay by cash.”

In its submission to the Committee, ACS highlighted the need to secure long-term access to cash and the importance of cash to customers of local shops.