Access to cash

LINK is committed to maintaining free access to cash across the UK for a long as consumers need it. This includes maintaining the coverage of free-to-use ATMs in the most remote and rural locations as well as improving free access in the most deprived areas of the UK.

LINK has had a Financial Inclusion Programme in existence since 2006 which continues to be developed and is focused on improving free cash access in the most deprived and remote areas of the UK. Further details can be found on our Financial Inclusion page. LINK produces monthly Footprint and Dashboard Reports which give the public a view on the current status of the coverage of the ATM network in the UK and the latest reports can be downloaded from this page.

In addition, LINK has also commissioned a number of important reports to help understand the issues around access to cash.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Access to Cash

In 2019, LINK published the independent Access to Cash Review, which projected a sharp reduction in cash usage over the forthcoming decade. That review warned that Britain was not ready to go cashless, and that action needed to be taken to protect those who continue to rely on cash and who were at risk of being left behind.

This paper details consumers’ behaviour at ATMs between April and August 2020. It suggests that the shift away from cash has speeded up significantly, but that the inequalities between different parts of society identified in the Access to Cash Review remain relevant, and sets out the action LINK is taking to protect the ATM network.

Independent Access to Cash Review

In July 2018 LINK commissioned Natalie Ceeney CBE to chair a new, independent Review to look at the impact of the shift from cash to digital payments - supported by a panel of consumer and industry experts. This Review was a response to cash usage declining rapidly in recent years and growing concerns about the sustainability of the supporting cash infrastructure.

The independent Access to Cash Review published its final recommendations in March 2019 calling on the Government, regulators and banks to act or risk leaving millions behind. The full report can be downloaded from this page, and further details can be found on the Access to Cash Review’s own website.

2022 Cash Census

The Cash Census: Britain’s relationship with cash and digital payments’ is the most comprehensive and up to date report since the independent Access to Cash Review concluded in 2019 that the UK was not ready to go cashless. The new research highlights that while a significant number of people rarely use cash and embrace a digital future, almost half the population (48%) say a cashless society would be problematic highlighting concerns around the ability to control finances and debt, digital fraud, privacy and increased isolation.

Published by the Royal Society for the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, and funded by LINK, it makes several recommendations about how to manage the shift to an increasingly cashless society. Read the report here.

Access to Cash in Rural Communities

In late 2018 LINK commissioned a new report ‘Access to Cash in Rural Communities’ by Professor Russel Griggs OBE. Professor Griggs, who in 2015, led the independent review of the Access to Banking protocol has made a number of recommendations on how to improve the lives of those living in rural communities and how industry and government can work together to help them adjust to the withdrawal of services such as pharmacies, post offices, banks and ATMs.

The report suggests that the rural convenience store and post office play a key role in maintaining free access to cash. Professor Griggs believes that banks and government should ensure the services they offer through convenience stores and post offices are designed in such a way as to make them attractive for the store owner who offers them, and quick and simple for the people using them.

Professor Griggs' recommendations look at a wide range of ways we can improve rural consumers’ lives. The full report can be downloaded from this page.

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