Free to use cash machines in Fife suffer cut in number

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Fife has lost 15 free-to-use cash machines in less than two years.

The figure comes at a time when MPs are studying the lack of access in towns and rural areas after a raft of branch closures by a number of banks.

There are concerns that the UK’s cash system is “falling apart.”

The figures reveal there were approximately 349 free cash machines in Fife at the end of 2017, according to data from the cash machine network Link.

But this fell to 334 by February 2019 – a drop of four per cent.

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Overall, there are were around 405 cash machines in Fife in February, including those that charge a fee for withdrawals.

That too is down from 424 in 2017.

An independent review into the accessibility of cash in the UK published in March warned that millions of people could be left behind if the country “sleepwalks into a cashless society”.

The report found that around eight million adults – 17 per cent of the population – were still reliant on cash and would struggle to cope in an entirely digital economy.

These included people in rural communities, those on a low income, who may struggle to budget without cash, and older people or people with disabilities who rely on cash for their independence.

Natalie Ceeney, who chairs the Access to Cash Review, said: “There are worrying signs that our cash system is falling apart.

“ATM and bank branch closures are just the tip of the iceberg. Underneath there is a huge infrastructure which is becoming increasingly unviable as cash use declines.

“We need to guarantee people’s right to access cash, and ensure that they can still spend it.”

A recent report by consumer watchdog Which? found almost 1700 previously free cash machines had begun charging users between January and March of this year.