Study finds rural part of Suffolk is cash access problem zone

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich has been identified as one part of the country with bad access to banks and ATMs

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich has been identified as one part of the country with bad access to banks and ATMs - Credit: PA/SARAH LUCY BROWN

An area of Suffolk has been identified as one of the worst places in the UK to get cash out.

Consumer group Which? found that Central Suffolk and North Ipswich is one of just 17 parliamentary constituencies with three or fewer bank branches and 30 or fewer free-to-use ATMs.

Dr Dan Poulter, the area's MP, said the stat was "symptomatic" of the rural nature of his constituency but added that towns with banks and ATMs were located just outside his constituency, meaning people could still access cash.

He said: "In more urban areas where people are increasingly using contactless cards, we are seeing some cash machines disappear. But thankfully, that hasn't been the case so much in the more rural parts of my constituency to date."

Dr Poulter, who said he most recently used cash to pay a cab fare last week, added that he would support protecting access to cash by law "if the need arose to do so".

Dr Dan Poulter has previously said "appropriate" development is needed to help stop house prices ris

Dr Dan Poulter has previously said "appropriate" development is needed to help stop house prices rising - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Stats show that between January 2019 and March 2022, the number of cash machines in Suffolk fell from 404 to 353.

Johnnie Walker, the Mayor of Eye, a town in Dr Poulter's constituency, previously told this newspaper: “If the cash machine was to go, it would be a major lifeline to the town lost.” 

Jenny Ross, Which? Money editor, said: “It really is now or never to halt the cash crisis.

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“Though banking industry proposals for action are welcome, what’s needed most is the legislation promised by the Government to protect cash. This should also include making the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) the key regulator to protect cash services.”

John Howells, chief executive of ATM network Link, said: “While cash usage has fallen by around 40% since the start of the pandemic, millions of consumers including some of the most vulnerable still rely on cash every day.

“Link believes that consumers in every community across the UK should have free access to cash and works with the industry to maintain it.

“While today, over 99% of high streets have free access to cash via either a nearby ATM or Post Office, as ATM numbers continue to fall, legislation is needed now to move the voluntary commitments of industry into a more formal and regulated arrangement.”