Councillors of Wishaw in North Lanarkshire, Scotland have voiced concerns that ‘the world is changing and not for the better’ following the announcement that a third of Post Office cash machines are to be scrapped.
‘They want a cashless society, but I don’t,’ notes Councillor Bob Burgess, who has previously criticised the decision of banks to close branches in Wishaw. He is concerned that those who prefer cash to other payment methods—for reasons of privacy, budgeting, convenience and more—will be left short of options if their last remaining ATMs are removed.
Councillor Fiona Fotheringham was also critical of the announcement, describing it as ‘another blow to the most vulnerable in our communities who will suffer the most as a result of the loss of free-to-use ATMs.’
While cash-free transactions are becoming more common, a fifth of consumers still mainly rely on cash, including a high proportion of older people. Those without a car will especially struggle if they have to go to the next town to find a free cash machine.
Angus is another example of a rural population left feeling vulnerable by reduced access to cash and an increased emphasis on card and digital payments, branding a push towards online banking ‘selfish’.
Research conducted by consumer group Which? in 2019 found ATMs were closing across Scotland at a rate of 43 per month. In positive news for Wishaw, at least, a Post Office spokesperson confirmed its ATMs in the town would remain open.
Like [Councillor Burgess], we believe it’s vital that the millions of people who rely on cash can continue to get it whichever way is most convenient.