The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called for greater protection for access to cash after a report from LINK, the UK’s main cash machine network, showing that cash withdrawals from ATMs declined year-on-year across the UK’s nations and regions in early 2019.

ACS highlighted the role that convenience stores play in providing access to cash to their local communities. Figures from the 2018 Local Shop Report show that 46% of convenience stores offer a free-to-use cash machine, with 16% offering a charging cash machine.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Millions of people still rely on cash every day, with convenience stores often the only place where ATMs are hosted due to the widespread closure of bank branches. Despite the continued importance of cash, LINK’s cuts to interchange fees have had a huge impact on the UK’s ATM network, leaving many communities without free access to their money. The new Prime Minister must make preserving access to cash and maintaining free to use ATMs an immediate priority.”

LINK’s figures also revealed that the value of money being withdrawn is declining more slowly - which could suggest that when people are using ATMs they are taking more money out as they may not visit them again for a while.

ACS has continued to raise concerns about ensuring access to cash for consumers and has been working with the Payment Systems Regulator to provide information about the impact of interchange fees on the cash machine network and about the provision of ATMs in convenience stores.