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Basic banking for all

 
July 23rd 2012
 

 

New rules could soon make it easier for homeless people or those on low incomes to open a bank account.

Access to banking services should be a legal right, according to the EU Parliament, which is calling for legislation to bring slacking banks into line.

It says that 10 per cent of EU citizens still struggle without a bank account, including homeless people, those on very low incomes, students, people with no credit record and foreign workers.

European MPs, who argue that the “soft approach” is not working, are calling for new rules that will force all banks across the European Union to offer basic services. When similar calls were made last year, the parliament said that of the 30 million “unbanked” citizens, between six and seven million had been denied access to a bank account.

Bob Baker, director at The Simon Community, pointed out that although the unbanked might struggle to open an account once homeless, for the vast majority, homelessness is a temporary situation and many already hold a bank account.

But Balbir Chatrik, director of policy and participation at youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, added that the situation could potentially get worse. “Limited access to mainstream banking services remains a significant problem for homeless young people,” she said. “Many young people get turned down for bank accounts because they cannot provide the necessary identification documents. This is likely to pose an increasing problem, as the scrapping of benefits cheques will make it harder for those without a bank account to receive benefits.”

While the issue of universal banking is an ongoing problem, with banks inclined to favour “commercially attractive” customers, some progress has been made - especially in the UK, according to the British Banking Authority (BBA).

Brian Capon of the BBA explained: “In the 1990s banks in the UK worked with the government to make banking as accessible as possible through the Universal Banking initiative that promoted financial inclusion. 

“At the start of the initiative there were around three million people who did not have a bank account and this has since been reduced to around one million.”

Today, all major high street banks offer basic banking services and there are now around 8.5 million such accounts, with almost all offering access at Post Office counters. Generally, only those with a history of fraud will be turned away, though many banks will also decline applications made by undischarged bankrupts, added Capon.

Despite the progress, the EU Parliament wants banks to go further, offering more and better services for basic account holders - including a small overdraft facility - while also making it easier for current account holders to switch to a free basic account.

 
 
 

 

Contents

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Soup Run Forum

Web only: Emergency Islington shelter remains open during sub-zero temperatures

Chairman of the board

Rest in peace - in memory of lost friends

Prince poses

Starter pack boost

Wearing a jacket to beg?

Teens found guilty of killing Ralph Millward

The Passage withdraws service "as a last resort"

New learning centre for Glasgow

iHobo game causes controversy

Auckland extends ban on rough sleepers

Homeless interrogation

Affordable housing development opens in Edinburgh

Who decides?

Credit unions

New counts are optional

Nobby on stage

I will never forget you, my people

London homeless services in limbo over ?Ǭ£3.28m cuts

Disused night shelter re-opened for winter months

Coventry Cyrenians forced to cut services

London hub success for new rough sleepers

Crisis Skylight in Birmingham - a year on

Residents look ahead to staff upheaval

Midland Heart report

Labour call for hefty council tax levy on empty homes

Stik pic for the American Church

Lottery grant means new opportunities

Mungo?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s launches women?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s campaign

Homeless people forced into slavery

Homeless couple marry in Australia

Number of homeless in Southend underestimated

Basic banking for all

NSNO expands into west London

Scottish homeless applications drop by 19 per cent

Miami cannibal

Invisible People film UK homeless

The demilitarised zone in North America’s drug war

2012 - the year of the right to permanent accommodation in Scotland?

Crisis at Christmas

The Pavement is recruiting

Rough sleeper donates $250 to charity

Food voucher scheme scrapped

Commemorating friends and companions

Human rights for all

First person: Gemskii on regaining control of her life

The shades come off

Upfront: spikes

Comment: Spikes are the least of your worries

Opinion: All up in smoke?

Heartbreak Hotel, episode 4.

The Pied Piper of Housing

March for the Homeless

Being homeless doesn't mean you can't vote on May 7

The vulnerability ruling

The Queen’s speech

Criminalising homelessness

116-bed hostel for young homeless to close in Southwark

Sponsor a bed and rebuild a life

Hipsters neutralise anti-homeless spikes

What the Brexit will happen now?

Anti-homelessness protesters threatened with eviction, jail by Manchester city council

Showing our impact

Rebirth

The birth of the North Gower Action Group

A pianist, an artist, a dog called George and a new homeless app

Living water

Midwinter blues?

Councils back change in law to tackle rising homelessness

Having problems with your JSA?

Mayoral hustings on homelessness

Skippering

A major step in reducing homelessness?

Liverpool Police homeless curb beggars belief

Charity begins at home?

Legal aid charade

Surviving the streets – by those who've done it

Stop the scandal

Glasgow homeless services at risk

Bill gives councils legal duty to stop homelessness

Homeless Grenfell survivors afraid of deportation

 

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