The area’s most vulnerable lower income people were paying those fee’s out of their benefits entitlements, meaning that some wouldn’t have sufficient amounts of money to live on after withdrawing cash multiple times.
With a high incidence of low-income households, the area of Hill Top & Caldwell had a complete lack of Free-To-Use ATMs. Local people needed a way to access cash regularly, but faced a long walk (inaccessible to many) or having to pay for each withdrawal. After hearing that local residents’ monthly ATM fee bills could be up to £21 a month, local resident Elaine Lovell set out to get a Free-To-Use ATM for her community. Elaine saw that the area’s most vulnerable lower income people were paying those fee’s out of their benefits entitlements, meaning that some wouldn’t have sufficient amounts of money to live on after withdrawing cash multiple times. Personally, her own medical and financial circumstances also meant that smaller withdrawals were most practical.
Elaine estimated how much her area was losing (£33,000 a year) because people need regular small withdrawals. She found supportive allies in her Big Local Advisors/Community Development Workers – they connected her with others who could help including at the local authority. When they saw how much money was leaving the community, they wrote the final inclusion profile for the area. Elaine collected the case studies in it. Elaine created a ‘walk map’ showing how far and how difficult the journey to the nearest free-to-use ATM could be and also collected further case studies to share with LINK, the cash machine providers. She also twice submitted evidence to the Treasury Select Committee inquiry.
It’s taken three years altogether, but the Hill Top and Caldwell community now have a free-to-use ATM. LINK has also since launched a new website dedicated to helping other areas acquire free-to-use ATMs.
Elaine thinks that LINK’s motives were more than feeling forced by the Select Committee or risk to their profits – that they genuinely listened to the evidence she and the community offered. Nuneaton has already been identified by Which? as one of the worst towns in the UK for losing free-to-use ATMs – she’ll be using their campaign to strengthen further local action for a second free-to-use ATM.
Who else was involved?
Local Trust; Local Trust Rep Tim Morton; Small Changes Niamh Goggin; Warks County Council Maxine Tuffin and Chris Florance; Hill Top and Caldwell Big Local Partnership; LTO Wcava Alison Thompson, Former Local Trust Journalist; Louise Tickle, Current Local Trust Journalist; Ryan HermanLink’s John Howells; Adrian Roberts and Ian Vernon; Louise Richards Warks County Council; MP Marcus Jones