FLINTSHIRE residents are set to pay nearly £1 to withdraw money out of a number of the county's cash-machines.

This is because the firm behind a fifth of the country’s free cash machines is to start charging customers 95p a time to take their money out.

Notemachine will charge for many of its 10,500 devices following changes to how the ATMs are funded.

The new fee could be a severe blow to the elderly, families and small businesses – with no banks left in Buckley, and dwindling numbers across Flintshire as a whole.

It also paves the way for many machines to be shut down completely if they are still unprofitable after the switch.

The free ATM network is paid for by high street banks such as Lloyds and Natwest, which give a fee to operators including Notemachine when a customer withdraws money using their card. But the banks have now cut these fees.

The change has reduced fees from 25p per transaction to 22.5p.

Notemachine is now planning to charge customers an estimated 95p fee at about half of its machines. The rest, which are operated under contracts for big businesses such as supermarkets, are likely to be spared.

Peter McNamara, Notemachine chief executive, said: "It’s just not sustainable and it’s causing a collapse in the number of ATMs in the country.

"A lot of areas – particularly rural areas, and urban areas outside the city centre – face a really severe risk of either not having ATMs or being forced to pay for cash withdrawals.

"The people who most need cash are people who probably need to budget very carefully, and there are many millions of them."

No date has yet been set for charging Notemachine customers.

David Hanson, MP for Delyn, said: "This increase is simply wrong on top of the already crippling charges levied – the closure of banks means that access to cash is limited and these charges hit the poorest areas hardest.

"Given the high level of profits banks are making, it's vital that they maintain free access to cash, especially in small rural towns such as those in Flintshire."

When a customer uses their card at an independent ATM, their bank pays the operator a so-called interchange fee.

The fee level is determined by an organisation called Link, which is owned by the banks and ATM operators. Link last year agreed to reduce the interchange fee by 10 per cent – from an average 25p per withdrawal to 22.5p – following lobbying by lenders, chiefly Lloyds, and Royal Bank of Scotland.

It comes after a stark warning from the Bank of England’s chief cashier Sarah John that paper money could disappear altogether.

Miss John said: ‘In order for cash to remain a viable payment method, the public needs access both to withdraw cash and to deposit cash. And if retailers cannot easily deposit the cash they receive from customers, they may choose to stop accepting it.’

A Link spokesman said: "Free access to cash is vital for consumers and the UK enjoys extensive coverage that Link is committed to protecting. We will investigate to make sure there is no negative impact on access to cash for consumers."