Home Money Do you live in one of Britain’s ATM deserts? Exclusive data reveals the regions that have suffered the most ATM closures

Do you live in one of Britain’s ATM deserts? Exclusive data reveals the regions that have suffered the most ATM closures

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This map shows the reduction of ATMs from October 2019 to January 2024

We’ve all run up and down the High Street in a desperate search for an ATM. Inevitably, it is when you need it most that you discover that there is none in sight.

But the search is getting tougher: more than half of free ATMs have been removed in some parts of the country in the last five years, new figures reveal.

A growing number of areas are becoming cash deserts, as bank branches continue to rapidly retreat from high streets, literally leaving a hole in the wall.

And it seems that nowhere is safe: a large proportion of ATMs are closing in both city centers and rural areas.

This map shows the reduction of ATMs from October 2019 to January 2024

In Hayes and Harlington, west London, 100 of the 189 free ATMs have been removed since 2019, according to ATM network group Link. In North Somerset, 30 of the 57 have disappeared. Meanwhile, in Cheadle, south of Manchester, 29 of 55 have left.

In many urban areas, free-to-use ATMs are being converted to ATMs that charge a fee to withdraw money, Link reports. The City of London, a key hospitality and entertainment hub where tourists and locals rely on access to cash, has lost 270 free-to-use machines. Meanwhile, in Glasgow more than 70 have been converted into payment machines.

In the last five years, 9,978 free machines have been closed across the UK, figures shared with Wealth & Personal Finance reveal.

According to Link, at the current rate, 60 per cent of free ATMs on the High Street will have been removed by the end of this decade.

About 23,000 ATMs are expected to close, reducing the number from 38,000 to 15,000, says Link chief executive John Howells. Five years ago there were 50,000 free ATMs.

So which areas have been hardest hit?

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Hayes and Harlington 189 89 -53%
Cheadle 55 26 -53%
North Somerset 57 27 -53%
Feltham and Heston 90 Four. Five -fifty%
Wythenshawe and East Sale 126 Sixty-five -48%
Twickenham 63 33 -48%
Southampton, test 90 48 -47%
Windsor 73 39 -47%
Chingford and Woodford Green 55 30 -Four. Five%
Runnymede and Weybridge 80 44 -Four. Five%
Source: LINK

Bristol has seen the highest proportion of free ATMs disappear of any city, with more than a third removed since 2019. The biggest drop has been in west Bristol, with 39 per cent closed.

Similarly, residents of the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales have lost a third of their local free ATMs.

But the trend is a UK-wide problem, Link warns.

In Hertfordshire, 28 per cent of free ATMs no longer exist, compared to 26 per cent in Surrey, 23 per cent in Leicestershire and 22 per cent in Greater Manchester.

Steve Makaritis, chief executive of NoteMachine, the UK’s second largest ATM provider, said: “The decline in free-to-use ATMs across the UK threatens access to essential banking services, affecting both urban communities and as rural”. The provider has called for urgent action from regulators and policymakers to preserve cash services, which it says remain vital for millions of people and small businesses. Market researcher YouGov found last year that 97 per cent of us still take out cash for transactions, and 71 per cent wanted strict rules to stop banks leaving the high street.

Only 3 per cent of UK adults said they had gone completely “cashless”, meaning they never used notes or coins to make payments.

However, despite the exodus of these vital services from cities, the use of cash has been on the rise.

It grew for the first time in a decade in 2022, as struggling households turned to bills and coins to manage their budgets. Cash payments accounted for 19 per cent of transactions in 2022, up from 15.2 per cent the previous year, latest figures from the British Retail Consortium show.

However, in January it was revealed that almost 200 bank branches were set to close, but 53 more closures have since been added to that list.

Almost 6,000 have been closed across the UK since the start of 2015, as banks continue to cut costs and signal customers’ shift towards online services.

They claim that the closures are due to a change in habits, as more and more people prefer to do their banking online and not use cash. But demand for cash is strong, particularly for many small businesses and seniors.

James Lowman, chief executive of the Convenience Store Association, which supports more than 49,000 local stores, said: “The loss of free ATM use over the last five years continues to be felt in communities across the UK.

Withdrawing money at an ATM is becoming more difficult thanks to closures

Withdrawing money from ATMs is becoming more complicated thanks to closures

“Convenience stores have struggled to provide access to cash to customers where bank branches have closed their doors in large numbers, but many operate this service at a loss.”

In January it emerged that almost three million people will be living in a “banking desert” by the end of 2024. Some 30 parliamentary constituencies, approximately 2.8 million people, will have no physical bank branches in December, according to consumer group Which?

The City’s regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, has been given powers to ensure customers have “reasonable access” to free cash deposit and withdrawal services.

In December, the regulator outlined strict new rules that make it harder to remove free ATMs when banks close branches. However, these rules are not expected to take effect until the fall.

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