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Action 'is needed' on ATMs, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MP Jamie Stone argues after writing to Chancellor Sajid Javid


By Philip Murray


Cash points and banks have been closing in communities across Ross-shire.
Cash points and banks have been closing in communities across Ross-shire.

ACCESS to free ATMs is vital and the chancellor needs to make 'access to cash' a priority in the spring budget, a Ross MP has argued.

Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MP Jamie Stone made the plea after writing to the chancellor, Sajid Javid, to warn that “nobody should have to pay a fee just to access their own hard earnt cash”.

The warning coincides with research from consumer rights charity, Which?, that has revealed the extortionate amount of bank branches and free ATMs that have closed since January 2018. In Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross alone, 13 bank branches have closed since January 2015. This means that more than half of the constituency’s bank branches have closed in four years. Six of the constituency’s free ATMs have also closed in two years.

Despite growing local concerns, banks and both the UK and Scottish Governments have justified bank branch and ATM closures by the move to digital banking. However, Mr Stone and a cross-party group of MPs are arguing digital banking is only possible in areas where there is a reliable internet connection.

Commenting on his letter to the Chancellor, Mr Stone said:

“Bank branch closures and the increasing number of fee charging ATMs have left too many people in our communities cut off. Nobody should have to pay a fee just to access their own hard earnt cash.

“The one-size-fits-all approach, be it from the SNP in Edinburgh or the Tories in London, fails to recognise the needs of cash-based economies in communities like those in the Highlan

“We are told that the closure of local branches or ATMs is a natural part of the move to digital banking, yet little has been done by either Government to ensure that broadband infrastructure in the Highlands is improved.

“The Spring Budget must include a commitment to keeping cash easy and free to access, whilst extending the benefits of digital banking to those of us who await a reliable internet connection. The support for my campaign from across the political divide shows the seriousness of the cash crisis faced up and down the UK.”

- Click here to read more news from the Ross-shire Journal.



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