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Plans to shake-up the UK’s ATM network may leave many remote areas with little or no access to cash, consumer group Which? has warned.

Link – which manages the network – wants to reduce the amount it charges banks and building societies to use its machines.

It says this will control runaway growth in the number of ATMs, and preserve them where they are needed. Which? said it could lead to “mass closures” of free-to-use machines.

According to the consumer group, more than 200 communities in Britain already have poor ATM provision, or no cash machines at all.

It said 123 postcode districts did not appear to contain a single ATM, making many consumers reliant on access in nearby villages or towns.

Image captionLink says the number of free-to-use ATMs has grown markedly

Gareth Shaw of Which? said: “Link’s proposals could place a strain on communities across the UK that are already struggling to access the cash they need following mass [High Street] bank closures.

“The financial regulator must intervene to avoid this situation getting worse.”

He said that those hit hardest would not be busy high streets, but ATMs in rural communities.

Link says it wants to lower its fees to card issuers by 20% over the next four years, from 25p to 20p per transaction. This would make it less profitable to run an ATM in many areas.

However, it says there are too many cash machines in places where they are not needed, with around 80% located within 300 metres of other ATMs.

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