The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed a new commitment from the ATM network provider LINK to install free-to-use cash machines on high streets that don’t have any free access to cash for consumers.

Free-to-use machines will be installed in centres and high streets (where there is a cluster of five or more retailers) that don’t have any free to use machines within 1km.

The new machines will be kept free by receiving the higher interchange fee rates previously set out by LINK as part of its Financial Inclusion Programme.

LINK has also clarified that the free-to-use machine could either be an entirely new installation or a change to the model of an existing chargeable machine in the area to being free to use.

ACS has previously warned that cuts in interchange fees would lead to communities being left without free access to cash.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome LINK’s commitment to ensure that high streets can provide free access to cash, but this will not be any help for most of the retailers that have seen their previously free to use machines moved to a charging model.

“LINK’s long-term plans to reduce interchange fees must be reconsidered, as they continue to have a negative impact, especially on isolated communities and local businesses that rely on cash.”

LINK previously planned to reduce the interchange fee by 5% each year from 2018 to 2021. However, after a significant fall in the volume of cash machine transactions, it cancelled the reduction in fees due in January 2020 and is reviewing the cuts planned for 2021.