ATM restriction hits poorest

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The Independent Online

Some four million of Britain's most vulnerable people have effectively been shut out of the ATM network by the Government, it has emerged.

Holders of the basic Post Office Card Account, who receive state benefits and can find it all but impossible to get a regular bank account, are not be able to access their money through the nationwide Link cash machine network.

This is despite hundreds of thousands of pounds being invested in installing machines in deprived areas at the urging of ministers and the Parliamentary ATM Working Group.

Until there is a change of heart on the part of the Department of Work and Pensions, which oversees the accounts in conjunction with the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, the 4 million Post Office account holders will be restricted to using only Bank of Ireland machines in post offices.

Edwin Latter, Link scheme director, said: "What is frustrating for us is that as part of an initiative with Government to get free-to-use cash machines into deprived parts of the country, the industry has spent a lot of time and money doing just that. Unfortunately, however, there is now a large set of mostly deprived people who are unable to use them."

A spokeswoman for the DWP said: "The accounts were set up for people on benefits who don't want them paid through a bank account. They are able to access ATMs in post offices."