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Sunday Herald - Cash scandal as MoD profit from Black Watch

Is there any truth in this or is it media sensationalist BS?


Cash scandal as MoD profit from Black Watch

By Teresa Hunter

Families of Scottish soldiers – including those of members of the Black Watch serving in Iraq – are being charged by private companies every time they take money out of cash machines on UK military bases.

Claims that “free” ATMs have been restricted to the officers’ mess on some bases are also being investigated.

The revelation has sparked an outcry and politicians have condemned the charging of servicemen and women and their families, especially when many are on active service in Iraq.

Bases across the UK have installed cash machines operated by private companies, not high street banks, meaning thousands of army and RAF servicemen and women are now charged £1.50 each time they withdraw money.

Most of the charging machines are in shops and centres run by the Naafi (Navy, Army and Air Force Institute), which receives between 70p and 90p of every charge levied.

Many families have to use the machines inside the base as commitments often prevent them from leaving the site to use non-charging machines.

Families of the Black Watch regiment, currently based at Warminster, are among hundreds who have no access to a free machine on the base. At RAF Leuchars and RAF Kinloss families also face £1.50 charges. At some bases, such as Brize Norton, there are some free machines, while others charge.

There is also evidence that at bases such as RAF Cranwell, in Lincolnshire, the free machine is in the officers’ mess and other ranks have to pay to access their money.

John McFall, the Dumbarton MP and chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, said the committee would examine the issue at next month’s inquiry into the rapid growth of fee-charging machines.

He said: “ One issue which is likely to concern members would be the lack of choice and opportunity which service families may enjoy to withdraw cash for free.”

SNP leader Alex Salmond is outraged at the revelations. He said: “This is a shameful exploitation of army families while our soliders are in the front line on active service.”

As controversy over the charges grows, a spokeman for Naafi told the Sunday Herald it has decided to review whether to continue running them.

Most of Naafi’s machines are supplied by Money Box, and chairman Peter McNamara said the site owner typically earned 70p-90p per withdrawal.

He said: “In most cases were it not for the fact that we have installed a cash dispenser, there wouldn’t one at all, because the economics of demand would not justify one.”

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said if there is a demand for a free machine, local banks would usually attempt to provide one. He also stressed there was no central government policy covering the installation of cash machines throughout bases, with such matters organised locally.

He said: “It is certainly not our objective to fleece any soliders or their communities. We would hope that where charges are being levied any profits are fed back into welfare arrangements for the service families.”

After hearing of the plight of the service families from the Sunday Herald, Barclays Bank said it would contact the MoD to begin discussions about installing free dispensers wherever there was demand.

A spokesman for Nationwide, which assisted the Sunday Herald with its survey of the ATM locations and charges on bases , said: “What we found most surprising is that where there are both free ones and charging ones, the free ones are sometimes in the officers mess while the ordinary solider’s family has to pay.

“This makes a mockery of the usual argument that it is not worth installing free machines because of the footfall.”

28 November 2004
It is true.

Every NAAFI I have been in over the last couple of years has a private owned "LINK" style machine inside. To add insult injury the old NAAFI boilers then refuse to give cashback "Ive no change love" is often the excuse.

Bases tend not to be on the high street so these cash machines are ideally placed to fleece a captured/isolated community.

If you look at training base where you have around 1500 trainees just look at the revenue that is made as they all hit the machine to pay for a Taxi down town.

It is not illegal of course but morally?
Sounds like just a way of trying to sell more newspapers from the good 1BW BGp name.

News for profit, and to hell with the facts.

These cash machines are being installed everywhere, not just on MOD property.

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