Rates cut urged for cash machines in small stores

Councils are being urged to use powers to increase access to free-to-use cash machines on high streets and in town centres.

Firms which install cash machines pay business rates to local authorities for each one. But Ministers claim small convenience stores struggle despite help available through business rate discounts which they claim would encourage more shops to install cash dispensers or to remove charges on existing machines, particularly in deprived areas.

High Street Minister Penny Mordaunt said: “People should not have to pay through the nose to access their cash. Free-to-use cash machines are a vital service that we are asking councils to take seriously. Councils can reduce rates for providers that commit to introduce new cash machines into areas, or remove charges on existing machines.”

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The Association of Convenience Stores is launching a guide for shopkeepers and councils to highlight rate relief benefits.

Chief executive James Lowman said: “ATMs located in local shops, cafés and other businesses and accessed from the street provide an essential service to high streets and local communities. Over half of convenience stores now include an ATM as part of their offer to customers.

“Councils should be thinking about using discretionary rate relief to reduce the costs of operating these services so that we can see more free-to-use cash machines supporting more high streets and local centres.

Labour MP Frank Field has been campaigning for improved access to free-to-use cash machines in deprived areas.

He said: “There is real momentum now behind our campaign to protect the poor from having to pay to withdraw cash, and we need as a next step the industry itself to work with councils to make the most of this.”