U-turn over customers' ATM access at RBS and Lloyds

Shredded bank statement
Image caption Basic bank accounts do not include overdraft facilities or a cheque book

Two taxpayer-backed banking groups have reversed decisions to restrict cash machine access for some customers.

RBS and Lloyds have only allowed customers with basic bank accounts to use their own bank's ATM network.

But now, in a bid to win customers' trust, these account holders will start to be able to use the full UK network of cash machines.

Basic accounts do not offer overdrafts or cheque books, and may be given to those with a chequered credit history.

'Stretched finances'

RBS has about one million customers of basic bank accounts, which used to be called Step or Cash accounts.

The restriction was put in place in 2011, with these customers only being able to withdraw money from RBS, NatWest, Tesco or Morrisons cash machines, or at Post Office branches over the counter.

The bank had said that allowing basic bank account customers to use other banks' machines was unsustainable because of the cost. The host bank has to pay a fee to other banks who allow their ATMS to be used for transactions.

A spokesman said the new policy would be effective before the end of the year.

The new chief executive of the RBS Group, Ross McEwan, said he wanted to win back the trust of customers.

"We know that we have to make banking easier for all of our customers, particularly those with stretched finances who work hard to make ends meet," said a spokesman for RBS.

"Lifting the ATM restriction for basic bank account customers is a step towards earning back that trust, and will make a huge difference to those who have struggled to access their money."

Lloyds has now revealed that it is writing to basic account holders to tell them that they will have the same freedom, starting in some cases from July.