Over 1.5 million people in low income areas of the UK are set to have access to free cash machines by summer next year.
Following a government initiative some 337 additional free access cash machines are now in operation and a further 206 are planned for the first half of 2008.
Currently there are some 27,000 charging machines across the UK, but 36,000 free ATMs currently account for 96 per cent of cash withdrawals.
In recent months Banks have come in for criticism after placing ATMs that charge for withdrawals in areas of low income – hitting poorest families hardest – and not showing machines will charge for cash clearly enough.
Treasury minister Kitty Ussher said: “With the excellent progress made to date, more than one million people in low income areas will benefit from not paying to access cash machines in their neighbourhood.
“When this initiative is fully realised and all of the free-to-use machines are in place, around 1.5 million low-income Britons will benefit – a fantastic result.”
She added: “As ATM operators continue to improve the signage of cash machines, customers will know at a glance if they will be charged to withdraw cash.”
The increased number of free cash machines comes after the banking industry agreed to establish 600 free machines in low-income areas following pressure from the government’s ATM Working Group.
“This initiative has been tremendously successful,” said John McFall, Treasury select committee chairman and head of the ATM Working Group.
“The outcomes have been remarkable and the feedback from these communities makes it clear people really appreciate what’s been done here. The new free to use ATMs are saving them significant sums of money they could ill afford to spend.”
“The next step is to ensure that every ATM machine displays clear signs to customers informing them whether the machine is one that charges or is free to use.”
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