Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Liz Saville Roberts is urging the UK government to review the LINK interchange fee which covers the cost of operating ATMs at premises such as convenience stores, as an increasing number of operators face charging customers for cash withdrawals.

Data compiled by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) reveal a thirty percent drop in the number of free-to-use cash machines in Dwyfor Meirionnydd, with 16 fewer than in 2018. 

The total number of ATMs in the constituency (both free-to-use and charged) now stands at 56, 12 fewer than in 2018, representing an eighteen percent cut.   

The total number of free-to-use cash machines in the UK now stands at 37,836, down from over 53,000 in 2018.

Mrs Saville Roberts has warned that the number of free-to-use cash machines in her rural constituency will continue to drop unless the interchange fee rises to a level which property accommodates the cost of managing the free-to-use ATM network.

"It is a damning indictment on the Tory government that ATM providers have been put in such a position that they are now left with no choice but to start converting their free-to-use cash machines to a pay-to-use model.

"My constituency has seen a 30 percent drop in the number of free-to-use cash machines over the last five years. This is predominantly driven by high street banks abandoning our communities resulting in a substantial decrease in foot traffic to bank branches.

"There is also the issue of the interchange fee, set by LINK and paid for by banks to cover the costs associated with maintaining free-to-use ATMs.

"Retailers are increasingly being told by ATM operators that they have been left with no other option but charge customers to withdraw cash, due to the interchange fee not rising in-line with the costs of keeping ATMs free.

"As is always the case, it is the poorest communities and the most vulnerable people that are likely to be impacted the most as a result of this reduction in free access to cash.

"Whilst customer habits are changing, rural communities still need access to cash, and the loss of yet more free-to-use ATMs will be a big blow to our communities.

"Notwithstanding the direct impact on customers, independent businesses are also seeing a reduction in footfall as they can no longer provide free cash at their stores.

"The government are bound by legislation to ensure that free access to cash is protected. They should heed the warnings coming from industry experts, businesses and the public and urgently review the interchange fee. Our communities cannot afford to lose more free-to-use cashpoints."