Councils Urged to Boost Access to Free to Use Cash Machines on High Street

Councils are being urged to use their business rates powers to increase access to free-to-use cash machines on high streets and in town centres.

Companies who install and operate cash machines generally pay business rates to the local authority for each machine.

Small convenience stores can struggle with this despite there being help available from Government that reduces costs by offering business rates discounts to these firms.

Councils opting to provide a local discount on rates incentivises shops and cash point providers to install new machines and remove charges on pay-to-use machines.

The Government wants councils to make full use of these powers to benefit local residents and make fee-free withdrawals widely available on all high streets and in neighbourhoods.

Under the Government’s business rates retention scheme, central government funds 50% of the cost of any local discount granted.

High Street Minister Penny Mordaunt said: “People should not have to pay through the nose to access their cash. Free-to-use cash machines are a vital service that we are asking councils to take seriously. “Councils can reduce rates for providers that commit to introduce new cash machines into areas, or remove charges on existing machines. We want councils to use their local business rates discount powers to ensure better access to cash machines in all areas and on our high streets.”

The Association of Convenience Stores is keen for councils to make use of their local powers and is launching a guide for shopkeepers and councils that makes clear the benefits rate relief can bring.

James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said: “ATMs located in local shops, cafés and other businesses and accessed from the street provide an essential service to high streets and local communities. Over half of convenience stores now include an ATM as part of their offer to customers. Councils should be thinking about using discretionary rate relief to reduce the costs of operating these services so that we can see more free-to-use cash machines supporting more high streets and local centres.”

The Government has issued advice for councils looking to use these powers to improve access to cash machines.

Frank Field MP, who has been campaigning for improved access to free-to-use cash machines in deprived areas, said: “I applaud the Government for the stance it has taken on this. There is real momentum now behind our campaign to protect the poor from having to pay to withdraw cash, and we need as a next step the industry itself to work with councils to make the most of this.”

Cash payment still plays a major role in the UK’s economy. Statistics released by the Payments Council show that cash is still used in over half of all payments in the UK, with cash payment particularly prevalent amongst older or disabled customers.

ACS’ guidance for local authorities on the use of discretionary business rate reliefs is available here:—Future-High-Streets-Forum.pdf


This entry was posted by Chris on Fri, 26/12/2014 - 13:15