MPs attack Post Office for £10m ATM windfall

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Post Office bosses came under fire for having fee-charging cash machines in their branches, after it emerged that consumers spend about £10m a year withdrawing money from them.

Angela Eagle, an MP on the Treasury Committee, which is investigating cash machine charges, questioned why post offices installed fee-charging ATMs if cash was available free of charge over the counter.

The Post Office said it was working to bring more charge-free banking to consumers and had applied to join Link, the network of free ATMs. It insisted it was not making money from the machines, which typically charge £1.50 a time, with the bulk going to the owner of the ATM machine. It also pointed out that 97 per cent of cash transactions at the country's 15,000 post offices were free.

John McFall, the chairman of the committee, said he was concerned that the people worst hit by the charges were those collecting benefits. Faced with a 15-minute wait in a queue, people would be tempted to use one of the charging ATMs, he said.

Graham Halliday from the Post Office admitted there was a lack of transparency and pledged that signs would be more clearly displayed to distinguish charging cash machines from free ones.