MP Patricia Gibson issued a stark warning on financial and social exclusion during a Westminster debate on the decline in free to use cash machines.

LINK, the body that funds free-to-use automated teller machines (ATMs), recently introduced cuts to the interchange rate fee, paid to the ATM operator by the customer’s bank when cash is withdrawn. Banks now pay ATM operators less for each transaction, making it more difficult for ATM operators to make a profit from each machine.

Since the fee reduction in November 2017, free ATMs have started disappearing. Across the UK, 1,300 free to use ATMs closed between January and July, with 221 of these in Scotland. Such closures are accelerating.

Mrs Gibson said: “Scotland has been hit hard by ATM closures, losing around one each day. There are now fewer than 6,000 left in Scotland. That sits uncomfortably alongside bank branch closures that have left so many Ayrshire towns with no bank at all

"“We should all be able to access our own cash without incurring charges.

"ATMs and bank closures create real concerns about the impact on small businesses and consumers, who are gradually being forced into online banking and cashless transactions."

“It is time the Payment Systems Regulator to guarantee the ATM network is fit for purpose."