Nationwide plans free cashpoints in libraries trial to target the poor

Nationwide Building Society is planning to put free cash machines in libraries as part of an anti-poverty stance.

The building society is partnering with the Bristol Financial Inclusion Taskforce (BFIS) for the city-wide trial, but expects other cities to follow. It follows campaigning from anti-poverty groups and the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Citizens Advice last year warned that many people in poorer areas were forced to use fee-charging cash machines. Fee-charging ATMs now account for more than four out of ten cash machines.

A consultation has been launched to identify where cash machines are most needed across the city. Locations such as community centres, shops and libraries most likely choices because they are perceived as being “busy areas where people feel safe”.

Citizens Advice estimates that of over 600 cashpoints across Bristol and neighbouring Weston-super-Mare, almost half are free, but that 84% of the most deprived neighbourhoods have no free ATMs. The first new machines will be in place by late summer.

Fifteen months ago Nationwide joined with the Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) to display signs on their cash machines to highlight the fact they did not charge for cash withdrawals.

They called on all ATM operators to introduce the colour-coded signage to help consumers know whether the facilities were free or charged fees.

Many operators argued that the red and green colour scheme would clash with their corporate colours.

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