Cash Dispensing: Fees and Charges

HM Treasury written question – answered on 2nd March 2018.

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Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that the use of ATMs remains free of charge.

Photo of Robert Jenrick Robert Jenrick The Exchequer Secretary

The Government recognises that widespread free access to cash via ATMs remains extremely important in the day-to-day lives of many consumers and businesses in the UK, and will continue to work with industry to ensure that it is maintained.

The Government established the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) in 2015 with a statutory objective to ensure that the UK’s payment systems work in the interests of their users.

As part of this, the PSR is monitoring developments within ATM provision, and recently set out three requirements of LINK, the scheme behind the UK’s ATM network: that LINK must maintain the current geographical spread of ATMs; that any changes made to interchange fees must be incremental to allow LINK to monitor the impact and take action if the impact is not as expected; and for a greater focus on LINK’s Financial Inclusion Programme, which ensures the provision of ATMs in certain areas where demand would not otherwise make one viable, to continue to fill gaps in the network. The PSR has committed to using its powers to act should any of the firms it regulates behave in a way that conflicts with its statutory objectives.

The PSR has recently published a summary of their work to date, which can be found at https://www.psr.org.uk/psr-focus/the-UK-ATM-network.

Following the publication of these three criteria, LINK committed to maintaining an extensive network of free-to-use cash machines, ensuring that the present geographical spread of ATMs is maintained, and bolstering its Financial Inclusion Programme. LINK will also protect all free-to-use ATMs which are a kilometre or more from the next nearest free-to-use ATM, and ensure that any community that loses ATM access because of a branch closure has a free ATM provided.

Furthermore, LINK will undertake an annual review of the impact of the interchange fee reduction as it is phased in over the next four years. In addition, LINK will set up publicly available monitoring on its website of every area of the country showing free ATM availability, and highlight any areas where free ATM availability is lost.

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