In the past seven years, 4,685 bank branches have been closed, with another 226 due to disappear by the end of the year, making up almost half of the nationwide network
Millions of Britons who rely on cash risk being left behind as punch machines and bank branches continue to disappear from high streets.
Consumer advocates Which? has warned of a looming crisis after its research found a quarter of ATMs have disappeared since 2018 and nearly half of bank branches have shuttered since 2015.
Worryingly, 4,685 bank branches have been closed in the last seven years and another 226 are set to disappear by the end of the year, making up nearly half of the country’s network.
Which? found 17 parliamentary constituencies with “particularly poor” access to cash, such as Sheffield Hallam, South Yorkshire.
Worryingly, it is one of seven without local banks and has just 25 ATMs, seven of which charge a fee, with just 1.85 ATMs per 10,000 residents, well below the national average of 8.4 per 10,000 residents.
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The other areas freed from bank branches are Bradford South, Erith and Thamesmead, Liverpool West Derby, St Helens North, Warrington North and Wentworth and Dearne.
Harrow East in north-west London has reduced its number of free ATMs by 60% since 2018 and at 17 now has the lowest number of any general constituency, alongside Orkney and Shetland.
According to the study, the elderly and those in rural areas who were most dependent on cash were also the most likely to be affected by bank and ATM closures.
Rural areas had just 0.1 bank branches per 10 km² and 1.1 ATMs, compared with 2.6 branches per 10 km² and 31.3 ATMs in urban areas, the study found.
The watchdog is now urging the government to accelerate its two-year-old pledge to protect cash through legislation as those ready face a “now or never” moment over their future.
Jenny Ross, which ones? Money’s publisher said: “While many consumers have embraced digital banking, there are still millions, including the elderly, vulnerable and isolated, who are not yet ready or willing to make that switch – and they need to be protected.
“Our research shows the devastating impact on communities of widespread bank branch and ATM closures. With only two weeks left until the Queen’s Speech, it really is now or never to stop the financial crisis.
“While the banking industry’s proposals for action are welcome, what is most needed is the government’s promised cash protection legislation. This should include making the Financial Conduct Authority the primary regulator protecting cash services.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/brits-could-left-without-cash-26793436 Brits could remain cashless as ATMs disappear and 50% of bank branches close