The Scottish Affairs Committee holds a one-off session to examine the long-term future of the cash machine network in Scotland, particularly in rural areas, in light of proposals to change the way it is funded.
LINK, the network responsible for 82% of all UK cash machine withdrawals, has announced a reduction of fees from 25p to 20p per withdrawal. LINK have said that the changes are designed to maintain and rebalance the UK's cash machine network. They have included measures designed to incentivise provision for rural and less affluent areas, removing fees and increasing subsidies for machines in poorly served areas.
However there are concerns that the proposals have been driven by pressure from banks to reduce costs and don't reflect the needs of consumers, with the Federation of Small Businesses warning that the proposals risked the closure of thousands of free-to-use cash machines.
Committee chair, Pete Wishart MP commented:
"During our investigation over plans to close RBS branches, we noticed how important it was for local communities to have 24hr access to cash that ATMs provide. The changes announced by LINK ostensibly contain measures designed to protect rural communities and low income areas. However, there is a concern that they are designed to reduce costs to the banking sector and won’t meet the needs of consumers.
We are holding this session to understand how these decisions were arrived at and what the real impact will be on access to this vital service."
Call for written submissions
The Committee will be looking at the following issues:
- The likely impact of the decision on the ATM network in Scotland on individual, communities and businesses.
- How the impact on rural communities might be mitigated, and the adequacy of the proposal put forward to date.
- The impact of the reduced charge rate on banks and independent ATM providers.
- The effectiveness of LINK's consultation and decision-making processes.
The deadline for written submissions is 1 May 2018.