Scotland business

Scots 'battle' to get cash after banks and ATMs shut

cash machine Image copyright Getty Images

Scots are facing an "uphill battle" to access their cash after a large number of bank and cash machine closures, a consumer organisation has warned.

Research by Which? found 339 Scottish bank branches had closed their doors since 2015, while 290 ATMs had been withdrawn in the past year.

It urged the UK government to appoint a regulator to protect access to cash.

HM Treasury said it recognised "the continued importance of cash, especially for more vulnerable people".

It added the existing payment systems regulator was "closely monitoring developments within ATM provision".

Which? said the closure of cash machines, the majority of which were free to use, had hit Scotland harder than other parts of the UK because of its "many rural communities, combined with an already devastated bank branch network".

In Scotland, withdrawals from machines were down just 3.3% in 2017-18, compared with larger drops of 8.5% and 7.7% in London and the south east of England respectively.

Which? warned the UK risked "drifting into a cashless society that could shut people out of paying for local goods and services".

'Serious concerns'

Which? Money managing director Jenni Allen, said: "We have serious concerns that the alarming rate of cashpoint and bank branch closures risks leaving people in Scotland facing an uphill battle to access the cash they rely on."

Ms Allen argued that while consumers were increasingly using contactless technology, cash was still a "vital backup as fallible digital payments grow in popularity".

She added: "The UK government must appoint a regulator to oversee these changes and ensure no-one is excluded and left struggling to go about their daily lives."

Image copyright Getty Images

An HM Treasury spokesman said: "Technology has transformed banking for millions of people, making it easier and quicker carry out financial transactions and pay for services.

"This is to be welcomed, but we also recognise the continued importance of cash, especially for more vulnerable people.

"In 2015 we set up the payment systems regulator to ensure that the UK's payment systems work in the interests of their users, and they are closely monitoring developments within ATM provision.

"While the decision to close bank branches is a commercial decision, we understand the impact it can have on communities.

"Banks must now give customers as much notice as possible when a branch is closing, and ensure they are made aware of the options they have locally to continue to access banking services."

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