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By Amie Keeley
Friday, April 4, 2014
Calls have been made to tackle the “rip-off” charges at cash machines clustered in some of Islington’s most deprived areas.
Leader of Islington Council, Cllr Richard Watts, is demanding banks and regulators take action to reduce the number of pay-to-use cash points, which charge up to £2 per withdrawal.
People living in the Andover Estate are surrounded by eight-pay-to-use cash points within a seven minute walk, according to figures from the Link network, the body responsible for running Britain’s ATMs.
Those using these cash points more than once a week would be paying just over £200 a year in fees.
Cllr Watts said: “The extortionate charges facing thousands of residents in Islington are outrageous. People are being penalised simply for withdrawing their own money. We need to improve access to free-to-use cash machines and I have called on the banks and the Government’s financial regulator to get a grip of this issue.
Across the borough there is a total of 120 pay-to-use cash points.
Cllr Watts added: “These crippling charges are made all the more perverse when you realise that within a seven minute walk of the home of Tory Mayor Boris Johnson, there are 14 free-to-use cash machines. This is compared with only two within seven minutes of the Andover Estate.
“Wealthy individuals can access their money without being ripped-off, but people with less money to start with face steep charges to access their own money.”
Cllr Watts said he has written to the British Bankers Association urging them to encourage the banks to make it easier for people to access their money for free and is lobbying Link to install more free-to-use cash machines in areas of Islington which currently have poor access.
LINK said it’s Consumer Council has run a Financial Inclusion Programme to help install more free cash machines in areas where very few currently exist.
It added that it is working with politicians, consumer groups, the banking industry and ATM operators to resolve the remaining areas.
A spokesman from the organisation said: “There is no particular way in which ATMs are distributed and installing an ATM is subject to a multitude of considerations for the operator, such as location, footfall, security and economic viability.
“In some areas there may not be any suitable locations. This will be for reasons such as no secure locations available, or low usage making the commercial operation of an ATM not financially viable and sometimes the store where it would be located does not generate enough cash to replenish an ATM.”
Members of the public can inform LINK if they know of a suitable location for an ATM, or if they feel their area lacks an ATM, by visiting www.link.co.uk