Number of free-to-use cash machines fall to the lowest levels in more than a decade
Cash gets the axe: Number of free-to-use cash machines fall to the lowest levels in more than a decade as bank closures hit high streets
- There were only 39,429 free ATMs in the UK at the end of 2022
- This is the lowest number since 2008 and compares with 40,942 in 2021
The number of free-to-use cash machines has fallen below 40,000 – the lowest level in more than a decade.
Bank branch closures mean there were only 39,429 free ATMs in the UK at the end of 2022, according to data from the largest cash machine network, Link.
This is the lowest number since 2008 and compares with 40,942 in 2021. A quarter of free hole-in-the-wall machines have disappeared since January 2018 in a blow to the elderly and communities reliant on cash.
A large chunk of free cash machines that have disappeared are where big banks have axed branches. The network has more than halved in the past eight years.
Link says there were 2,824 free Barclays ATMs in December 2021. But numbers dropped by 11 per cent to 2,511 in a year.
The number of free-to-use cash machines has fallen below 40,000 in the UK at the end of 2022
Lloyds saw an 11.5 per cent drop from 1,918 to 1,697. Halifax, HSBC and NatWest removed more than 100 cash machines each last year. In total, these five banks closed 1,095 ATMs in 2022.
Dennis Reed, from campaign group Silver Voices, said: ‘It’s yet another access to cash threat. Many older people rely on cash, and it is also vital for many people in terms of budgeting.
‘If you’ve got the cash in your hand from your state pension then you’re able to know what you have left, whereas cards are easy to tap and lose track.’
The cash machine network has now set up a service to ensure free-to-use points where the next non-charging ATM is more than 1km (0.62m) away are protected.
Nick Quin, from Link, said: ‘We know that cash is vital to more than five million people.
‘That means making sure all high streets can access cash through an ATM, Post Office or a retailer’s till.’
The decline in ATMs comes despite cash withdrawals rising last year for the first time in ten years.
Experts suggest increasing numbers of people are returning to cash to cope with the cost of living.
A total of £83billion was taken out of ATMs in 2022, compared with £79billion the previous year.
Link said there was an increased demand for cash – with the average adult withdrawing £1,564 in cash last year – up from £1,462 the year before.
Mr Reed added: ‘The Government needs to take this situation seriously because it has promised that it will protect the access to cash – yet bank branches and ATMs are closing, so where is the protection?’