Citizens' Advice: Fee-charging ATMs hit poorest people

20 July 2006
A study from Citizens' Advice (CAB) suggests that cash machines charging a fee for withdrawing money are disproportionately located in poorer areas.

The findings of the debt-help charity show that fee-charging machines, which can add on a cost of up to £3 per transaction, are more prevalent in areas of low average earnings.

The CAB report, entitled 'Out of Pocket', highlights several areas where fee-free ATMs are hard to find or are proportionally outnumbered by those that charge.

Chapeltown in Leeds – statistically one of the most deprived areas in Britain, according to the ODPM – is cited as one of the largest "free ATM deserts". It has ten cash points that charge a fee and is entirely devoid of any free alternatives.

David Harker, chief executive of Citizens Advice, described this as "a growing problem", saying people earning less money and, significantly, with less means to travel further in order to withdraw cash, "should not be penalised".

"Rural communities are amongst the worst affected," Mr Harker said. "People [in these areas] may have to travel miles to the nearest free cash machine or pay a high charge."

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