Revealed: Norfolk resort has the highest percentage of fee-paying ATMs in the country
PUBLISHED: 11:32 18 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:41 18 September 2019
A Norfolk town has been named as having the highest percentage of pay-to-use cash machines in the country.
Almost half of cash machines in Great Yarmouth now charge a fee, far above the national average of 20pc.
The figures, compiled by Which? magazine, reveal free-to-use cash machines are being lost in deprived areas more quickly than anywhere else, leaving the poorest people more reliant on using fee-paying machines or travelling to access their money for free.
In the East of England, 390 of free ATMs (8.7pc) were lost between January 2018 and May 2019.
Great Yarmouth sees 49pc of ATMs charge a fee of up to £2 for each transaction, an increase of 5.7pc from 2018 to 2019.
Which? said its analysis showed nearly one in 10 of free cashpoints across the country had closed or switched to fee-paying during a 17-month period after changes to how the network is funded were set out.
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The consumer group used data from ATM network Link to make the findings.
Reductions to the fees card issuers pay to ATM operators have sparked fears that "cash deserts" could be created, with bank branches also closing.
Jenny Ross, Which? money editor, said: "We know that people in more deprived communities tend to rely heavily on cash, so it's deeply concerning that those who can least afford it are being hit with the extra burden of hefty fees to access their own money as free cashpoints close at an alarming rate.
"The Government and regulators must urgently get a grip on these rapid changes to the cash landscape and guarantee people across the UK can continue to access this important payment method for as long as it is required."
Natalie Ceeney, chairwoman of the independent Access to Cash Review,said: "Six months ago, we presented recommendations of what steps should be taken to make sure no one was left behind.
"With ATM numbers declining, cash use dropping, and more and more shops not accepting cash, our fear is that the UK will fast go cashless, leaving millions of people behind."
John Howells, chief executive of Link, said: "Which?'s report rightly points out that it is the less well-off and more remote parts of the country that are at growing risk of losing free cash access."
He said the number of fee-charging charging ATMs, while showing a recent increase, is still around the same levels seen at the start of 2018, and much lower than an all-time high in 2007, adding: "Pay-to-use withdrawals remain low at around 3pc of transactions."