UK risks becoming ‘cashless society’ as free cash machines ‘could be scrapped’ in parts of UK

UK risks becoming ‘cashless society’ as free cash machines ‘could be scrapped’ in parts of UK

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Patrick O'Donnell

By Patrick O'Donnell

Published: 26/03/2024

- 17:04

Analysts have issued a warning over the likely impact on communities if free-to-use cash machines and bank branches are scrapped

Communities throughout the UK could be left without a free-to-use cash machines within the next 12 years, according to new research.

Experts from MoneyZine have projected where the first places in the country will be to no longer have free ATMs as Britain edges closer to a cashless society.

Bank customers are currently able to withdraw money from their accounts at the majority of cash machines for free, however this is expected to change.

Following GB News’ Don’t Kill Cash campaign, the Government told banks to provide cash services for the public within a three mile radius of customers or risk being fined.

In recent years, concerns have been raised over the wave of bank branch closures with three million Britons at risk of having inadequate access to cash services.

NatWest, Barclays and Halifax have been among the high street banks to close sites with more expected to close in 2024.

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Man looking stressed next to a cash machine

Communities across the country face losing access to free-to-use ATMs, according to new research


From 2018 to 2023, some 14,783 free-to-use cash machines were shut down, MoneyZine found. This issue is set to be compounded by the scrapping of free-to-use ATMs with experts warning this will likely impact vulnerable people the most.

Luke Eales, the CEO of Moneyzine, urged the Government and regulators to make sure people will still have sufficient access to cash in the years to come.

The money expert explained: “The data shows that governing bodies need to ensure that availability of ATMs is protected.

“The fast declining rate of free to use ATMs means that people will need to start paying additional fees for withdrawals.

“If the UK is to continue moving towards a cashless society, it is vital that the right measures are taken to ensure that we don’t leave people behind.”

Here is a breakdown of the constituencies in the UK which will be without a free ATM within the next 12 years or more, according to MoneyZine:

  • Hayes and Harlington – London - 2036
  • Harrow East – London -2036
  • Oldham East and Saddleworth – North West - 2036
  • North Somerset – South West - 2027
  • Leeds North West – Yorkshire and The Humber - 2037
  • Southend West – East of England – 2037
  • Forest of Dean – South West – 2037
  • North East Hertfordshire – East of England – 2037
  • Cheadle – North West – 2037
  • Feltham and Heston – London – 2037
  • Twickenham – London – 2037
  • Plymouth, Moor View – South West – 2038
  • Chesham and Amersham – South East – 2038
  • Chingford and Woodford Green – London – 2038
  • Stone – West Midlands – 2038
  • Buckingham – South East – 2038
  • Devizes – South West – 2038
  • Newport East – Wales – 2038
  • Mole Valley – South East – 2038
  • Birmingham, Selly Oak – West Midlands – 2038.

Here is a breakdown of when cities in the UK will begin to lose access to free cash machines, according to the money experts:

  • London – 2036
  • Leeds - 2037
  • Birmingham – 2038
  • Newcastle upon Tyne – 2039
  • Nottingham – 2039
  • Manchester – 2040
  • Liverpool – 2041
  • Glasgow – 2041
  • Edinburgh – 2041
  • Bristol – 2043
  • Aberdeen – 2044.


Bank branch closure sign at NatWest Bank branch closures are continuing at an 'alarming rate', according to Which?GETTY

MoneyZine’s chief executive emphasised the types of people who will be most adversely affected by these vital cash services.

Mr Eales added: “Individuals and businesses based in areas with poor internet access still rely on cash by a means of payment.

“Governing bodies need to make sure that the level of investment in the infrastructure needed for a cashless society, matches the declining rate of ATMs as shown by the data.”

Sam Richardson, the deputy editor of Which? Money, has previously warned of “alarming rate” of bank branch closures and the withdrawal of cash services.

He said: “A closed bank branch isn't just a high street eyesore, but one less place for consumers to go to withdraw cash or access in-person banking services.

“Alternatives like banking hubs could help plug the gaps, but they are being rolled out too slowly, so more must be done to ensure communities get these replacements for their closed bank branches as soon as possible.”

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