Frank Field's campaign leads to cash machine charge reform

Wirral Globe - 06 Feb 2019
A WIRRAL MP's campaign against the injustice of cash machine charges in deprived areas has resulted in major national reform of the service.

During a debate in Parliament, Frank Field proposed that a cross-subsidy should be built into the system, so banks would, in effect, pay for there to be more free-to-use machines in those areas.

As a result of the campaign, cash machine network LINK has introduced changes which aim to protect existing free-to-use machines and, hopefully, convert many others to being free-to-use.

It is thought the changes could affect users of up to 3,500 cash machines nationally.

In Mr Field's Birkenhead constituency, the following cash machines will receive immediate protection:

Prenton Bargain Beers, Rock Ferry General Store in King Street, Birkenhead, McColls in Prenton Hall Road, Prenton and the Post Office in Fender Way Birkenhead.

Mr Field told the Globe this afternoon: "Another campaign that began here in Wirral has now contributed to a major national reform which could affect thousands of cash machines.

"When I first raised the injustice around cash machine charges in deprived areas, I proposed to the Government that a cross-subsidy should be built into the system to remove charges from as many of those machines as possible.

"That proposal is now being put into action in a victory for hard-up residents who, for far too long, have been ripped off by this stealth tax on cash withdrawals."

News of the reform was confirmed in a letter to Mr Field from John Howells, chief executive of the LINK Scheme.

He wrote: "As the UK begins to use less cash and move towards alternative payments, it is ever more important that we protect free access to cash.

"Therefore, from April 1 2019, we will be introducing an enhanced premium that will significantly increase payments to ATM operators by up to £2.75 per cash withdrawal.

"These premiums will be made available to operators who currently run pay-to-use machines in areas where LINK believes a machine, that switches from pay-to-use to free-to-use, will improve coverage in deprived areas.

"£2.75 per cash withdrawal is in excess of the price charged by an average pay-to-use ATM so there should be no economic need for an operator to turn a free-to-use ATM in a remote or deprived area into a pay-to-use machine.

"Free access to cash is an important issue to millions of people across the UK so the LINK Board will regularly monitor the effectiveness of these premiums and in the context of the recommendations shortly due from the independent access to cash review and make changes as appropriate."

Craig Manning, Wirral Globe