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ATM withdrawals drop by £37bn during last year

WITHDRAWALS from cash machines in the UK have fallen by £37bn during the 12 months of the Covid pandemic, renewing the debate over the future of cash.

Link, which oversees the UK’s cash machine network, said the number of visits to ATMs had fallen by 43% compared with the previous 12 months.

But the amount withdrawn on each cash machine visit has gone up, from an average of £67 to £84.

Less demand and Covid restrictions mean 4,000 fewer free ATMs are in operation.

Some may be restored, such those at a busy supermarket which may have temporarily cordoned off for social distancing, but other cost pressures will still exist for providers.

It still remains likely that further cuts to the 41,000 free-to-use machines will come in the next few years, prompting concern that some vulnerable people will be unable to access their favoured way to pay.

Natalie Ceeney, who chaired an independent review on access to cash, recently said that cash refusal by retailers was “creeping into the UK economy”.

She said that much would depend on whether old habits will return to places such as pubs and hairdressers, which have traditionally seen high cash use.

“It is crucial to understand that cash remains vital for millions of people. Not everyone has a bank account and not everyone can use digital,” she said.

“Cash allows you to budget to the last penny. Fewer ATMs, bank branch closures and shops going cashless may be seen as progress to some, but there are still a lot of people out there where it makes life more difficult, expensive and uncertain.”

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