UK banking group Nationwide Building Society has entered into a partnership with local groups to install free cash machines in low-income areas across Bristol and Weston-super-Mare, and, it hopes, to set an example for other cities to follow suit.
The cash machines will be installed in suitable places such as shops, community centers or libraries that are located in busy and safe areas, giving people free access to cash 24 hours a day. The Bristol Financial Inclusion Taskforce (B-FIT) is launching a public consultation to identify where cash machines are most needed across the city.
There has been a long-standing national concern about the lack of access to free cash machines in poorer areas, with extensive campaigning by the British Evening Post, and the Citizens Advice Bureau, among others. It has been estimated that consumers will pay over GBP250 million to access their own cash across the UK in 2007.
We have long campaigned for real action to protect the free cash machine network and this innovative partnership is a great opportunity to make a difference to deprived communities, said Jeremy Wood, Nationwide director. We already have 30 free cash machines in the Bristol area, and are now inviting local people to suggest new locations for more free cash machines. This is a significant step forward in ensuring people can access their cash for free.