SMEs call for protection of free cashpoints

New figures from the consumer campaign group Which? indicate that one in 10 free UK cashpoints have either closed or started charging fees since January 2018.

An analysis of data from Link, the UK’s largest network of ATMs, found that nine per cent of free cashpoints across the country closed or became fee paying over a 17-month period, with deprived communities disproportionately impacted by the changes. 

Since January 2018, a total of 8,700 free-to-use ATMs have either switched or closed. There are now 5,300 fewer free-to-use ATMs than in January 2018, if one takes into account new free-to-use ATMs. 

Writing to the Chancellor, Sajid Javid, Which? Chief Executive Anabel Hoult and Natalie Ceeney, Chair of the independent Access to Cash Review, have called for the government to do more to do more to protect consumer access to cash across the country, ensuring that millions of people who rely on it as a payment method are not left behind as the digital payments trend picks up pace.

Responding to the intervention and findings by Which?, which is calling on SMEs to sign their ‘Freedom to Pay’ petition, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman Mike Cherry, says:

“Millions of small business owners still have customers that want to pay in cash. Often these customers are among society’s most vulnerable: the elderly, those on tight budgets and those with disabilities.

“It’s vital that banks, regulators and the Government work together to arrest the decline of our cash network. Otherwise we risk yet another blow to our high streets: reduced footfall as bank branches and ATMs are lost and less cashflow in local economies.

“There’s no silver bullet here. The drop in ATM interchange fee certainly seems to have had an impact, but we need to think bigger and more collaboratively when addressing this challenge.

“More bank branches need to become community centres – providing meeting rooms, cafes and digital facilities alongside in-person banking support. Elsewhere, you now have a major card provider offering financial incentives to small firms that offer cashback, which is a helpful development. 

“The Post Office also has a role to play, and more should be done to improve and standardise its banking offer across locations. Then there are tax incentives to consider – to date, our regressive business rates system has not been kind to shop owners who decide to host a cashpoint and thereby provide a vital public service. 

“Freedom is the watchword here. Small business owners must be allowed to go cardless, cashless or accept both cash and card, whatever works best for them. The push for a ‘minimum service guarantee’ must not stray into burdening small firms with fresh rules and regulations.”

SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy. They stimulate economic activity, create jobs, drive innovation, increase competition and contribute largely to the overall progress of the country. Yet, in order to survive and thrive, business owners need access to cash, as well as accurate, reliable and timely financial information, whether that be profit or cash focused, or both, to accurately and effectively manage the company’s finances and drive growth.

Being able to understand and evaluate your business through real-time information on actual performance is critical in controlling costs and it could mean the difference between survival and business failure

At Beavis Morgan, we work with our clients to put processes in place which make it easier to run your business and to maintain effective management of your company’s working capital. We also assist with management accounts, enabling better control of your financial situation and awareness of the business in real time, enhancing planning for the peaks and troughs.

If your business requires finance, our partner business BM Structured Finance can help. We match the most suitable products to each individual circumstance and work together to ensure compatibility and satisfaction, thereby enhancing the business’ cash flow liquidity and facilitating maximum growth. Our BM Advisory team is also available to assist with resolving any issues which can impact on business performance and success, finding innovative solutions for businesses and individuals in distress.

For further information, please contact Steve Govey or your usual Beavis Morgan Partner. We are here to guide you through each stage of the business lifecycle, whilst navigating the challenges and advising on making the right decisions both now and for the future – for you, your family and your businesses.