Cash crisis: villagers forced to drive 40 minutes to withdraw their money

A banknote behind bars
New report reveals scale of free cash deserts Credit: Telegraph/Telegraph 

Cash machine closures mean some people are now forced to drive 40 minutes or take 25-minute train journeys just to withdraw their own money without being charged, a new report reveals.

Britain lost 10pc of its free cash machines, or 5,334, between January 2018 and May 2019. Around 600 no-fee ATMs are closing every month.

A survey by Which? found that residents in Harlech, Wales, face a 25-minute train ride to get cash without being charged.

The region also has poor mobile data coverage, making online banking more difficult.

Those living in Tighnabruaich, in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, must drive for 40 minutes to access a free machine. Those in Naseby, Northamptonshire, have to travel 20 minutes by bus.

The only alternatives for people in these areas are to pay up to £1.99 per cash withdrawal at closer ATMs or rely on Post Office branches.

Rural communities are hit hardest, Which? found, with those living in the countryside having to travel three times further to find a free ATM than urban dwellers.

The elderly are the demographic most affected by travelling further to find free cash machines, as they are more likely to rely on physical money and also struggle with mobility.

In a further blow to those who prefer cash, Barclays said yesterday it would stop offering customers the ability to withdraw money in Post Office branches from January 2020.

Barclays also promised not to close branches in remote areas, or any outlet that was the last bank in town, for the next two years.

Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said: “These are worrying examples of our drift towards a cashless society which is leaving behind thousands of older people.”