Launched in late 2019, LINK’s Direct Commissioning process was created to identify and
support communities across the UK in need of a free-to-use cash machine.
While cash continues to be the second most popular payment method among consumers, the shift to online shopping and use of alternative payments such as contactless cards has led to a steep decline in visits to ATMs. This downward trend has increased since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, with ATM transactions down on average by as much as 45% on 2019.
This has meant that many cash machines have become less financially viable and have either
closed or switched to pay-to-use. However, with around five million people still heavily reliant on cash, LINK has successfully used funding from the banking industry to support communities across the UK. This includes supporting community requests for ATMs and installing machines in locations which may have recently lost free access to cash.
The first Community Request ATM was in January 2020 in Durness, Northwest Highlands.
Following the closure of the ATM, residents and tourists in the remote village had to travel a
round trip of 50 miles to the nearest free to use ATM.
Since then, LINK has installed 69 ATMs in response to community requests, including in
villages like New Tredegar in the Welsh valleys, military bases including Catterick Garrison and
inner-city locations including Croxteth in Liverpool.
LINK has also replaced 25 Protected ATMs, where the only access to cash within 1km was lost, and funded machines near six High Streets as part of its commitment to securing access to cash.
The ATMs serve communities as far north as Kinloss in Moray and as far south as Shalfleet om the Isle of Wight. From Great Yarmouth in the East Coast of England to Harlech on the Welsh coast. These machines have to-date distributed over £55m to customers.
LINK’s research has shown that the ATMs which have replaced those which charge are saving local communities up to £40,000 a year in transaction fees.
John Howells, Chief Executive, LINK: “COVID has turbocharged people’s decisions to adopt new ways of paying. But there are still 5m people who rely on cash, and that makes this work more important than ever. We will continue to visit locations right across the UK to install ATMs where they are needed.
“If you find getting cash free of charge is an ordeal, or if you have to pay to get your cash, we want to help. We will continue making sure that every community which needs it keeps free access to cash – for as long as necessary.”
Councillor Anthony Lavelle, Liverpool City Council: “I’m proud that our campaign, with the support of LINK has secured a free to use machine in our community and I’ve heard from people first-hand about the positive impact this change has had on their finances. Some people locally used the machine up to five times a week when it was charging £2 to withdraw your own money - £10 to some people is a lot of money and losing it to a machine for no good reason only causes further hardship and keeps people pitted in poverty."