Rushanara Ali MP welcomed the announcement of the phasing out of cash machines which charge people £5 to access their own cash, but warned that there was much more work ahead to secure a fair deal for people across the UK.
The news follows Rushanara’s investigation into cash machine charges, and subsequent cross-examination of the chief regulator of UK cash machines at a hearing of the Treasury Select Committee in late November. In the hearing, Rushanara exposed the disparities in cash machines charges between traditionally affluent areas and those facing disadvantage.
Her research revealed that residents living in Whitechapel in her Bethnal Green and Bow constituency were two and a half times more likely to be charged for accessing their own cash than residents in Sloane Square, West London:
- According to Link website, if you live in Sloane Square in West London, about 14% of the closest 50 ATMs charge money for accessing cash.
- However, if you live in Whitechapel, that proportion is 34% – over one in three machines which charge up to £2.00 for people to take their own money out.
Reacting to the news that councils will be encouraged to discount local business rates to ensure better access to cash machines, Rushanara said:
“This is a step in the right-direction for people who deserve access to their own cash. That said, the industry needs to do much more to ensure equal treatment for people in all areas of the country. It is simply unacceptable that residents in areas such as Bethnal Green and Bow continue to lose out because of the glaring inequalities in cash machine charges. It is a basic matter of fairness at stake. As a member of the Treasury Select Committee, I will continue to apply pressure on the regulator and industry bodies to ensure that there is fairness of access to cash for all people, regardless of postcode or community.”