The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) is calling on Link, which manages the UK’s ATM network, to cancel its next planned fee cut and stop large numbers of machines being lost from local communities.

Link’s cuts to the fees that are paid to cash machine operators have resulted in thousands of free cash machines being lost in communities across the UK, leaving tens of thousands of people without any way of getting access to their money.

ACS warned that with the next fee cut due in one year’s time, cash machine operators will be weighing up whether their machines are viable long term. It is calling on Link to scrap the cut and to consider whether the fees paid to machine operators need to be returned to pre-2018 levels to protect access to cash in the long term.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “Protecting access to cash is crucial for the millions of people that still rely on it every day. Communities across the UK have been left without a cash machine at all as a result of Link’s programme of cuts to interchange fees, with many more only being able to get to a machine locally that charges to withdraw money. Link must stop the cuts that have been so damaging to the network and ensure that the local shops who offer cash machines are supported.”

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, said: “Our research has found that provision of free cash machines is already shockingly low, particularly among poorer communities, threatening to exclude those who rely most on cash in their everyday lives from being able to make essential daily purchases.

“It’s clear that industry measures alone cannot prevent further reductions to the network of free ATMs. The government must take urgent steps to fix the UK’s broken cash landscape and introduce legislation to ensure people continue to have free access to their cash for as long as it is needed.”

ACS has said that if Link do not take action, the Government should intervene to ensure that access to cash is protected in the long term.