Lost in the New Year hangovers, on January 1st the Guardian reported that:
More than 300,000 of Britain's poorest people live at least 1km from a
free-to-use cash machine, raising questions about whether the most
disadvantaged can obtain cash without paying a fee, the government's
adviser on poverty has said. Figures
obtained by the Guardian from the Link network, the body responsible
for running Britain's ATMs, show there are 269 low-income areas lacking a
free machine within a 1km radius. These "cash machine deserts" mean people face a fee ranging from 75p to £10 to retrieve their money via an ATM.
In contrast, in one eight minute section of my walk to work, I pass no fewer than eleven free-to-use cash machines. Eleven. When I arrived here last year, there were eight, all except one attached to banks, but since then a new Sainsbury's Local and a Tesco Express have opened, each complete with cash machine, and just in case there still weren't enough, the Post Office added one to their front window.
Why? What's in it for them? Am I more likely to shop in Sainsbury's if I can get my cash from right outside the door rather than a few steps down the road? Does the Post Office have a policy of installing machines regardless of existing provision in the area?
Come to think of it, what does it say about an area that it has five bank branches within a five minute walk, in what is no more than a small suburb? Perhaps the dreaded Wikipedia points towards the answer - apparently my lovely little part of town was 'identified in 2003 as the highest ranking area outside London for overall wealth'.
I had no idea, honest.
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