New research from the consumer group Which? has identified 259 communities across the UK with poor cashpoint provision, or no ATMs at all.
The report found that one in 10 of Britain’s free-to-use cash machines has either closed or started charging a fee during the past 17 months, with the poorest communities hit hardest.
FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “When an area loses cashpoints, that has very real impacts on surrounding small businesses: sales fall as customers who want to
pay with notes and coins are left in the lurch, and footfall drops as shoppers head to other towns where they can still access bank branches and ATMs.
“Between the Treasury, regulators, banks, Post Office and independent ATM providers, we have no shortage of actors in this space. The challenge for the next government is bringing them all together to create a cash infrastructure that is both comprehensive
and commercially viable.”
The fact that there are now areas that are without a cashpoint or Post Office was especially worrying, he added.
“The Post Office has a crucial role to play in enabling free access to cash right across the country, particularly in remote communities. The recent decision by Barclays to continue allowing customers to freely access cash at post offices was the right one.
"We need to see continued support from banks for the Post Office.”
The loss of cashpoints is just one example of how our high street banking infrastructure is diminishing across the UK, added Mr Cherry. “We’re also contending with rapid closure of bank branches, one upshot of which is to create yet another barrier to accessing the external finance small firms need to invest, hire and grow.”
The most deprived areas are losing access to their cash from ATMs at a faster rate, the report found.