Locally and nationally I work with Citizens Advice supporting their campaign for everyone to access a bank account, free from the fear of charges that can lead to self-exclusion or unmanageable debt.
So I am delighted that from the 1st January a great many local people stand to benefit by hundreds of pounds as nine major banks launch fee-free basic bank accounts. I think this is a key step forward in ensuring that our banking industry works for everyone.
The accounts will be available to anyone who doesn’t already have a bank account, is ineligible for a standard current account or who can’t use their existing account due to financial difficulty.
For the first time they will be truly fee-free, helping people to manage their money without fear of running up an overdraft.
This week’s announcement follows last Christmas’ landmark agreement between the government and the banking industry to establish new basic bank accounts that will end bank charges if a direct debit or standing order fails.
In some cases, charges had been as high as £35 per failed item, and uncapped, meaning charges could accumulate to hundreds of pounds over time and drive people into serious debt.
Basic bank account customers will now also be offered services on the same terms as other personal current accounts that the banks provides, including access to all the standard over-the-counter services at bank branches and at the Post Office, and access to the entire ATM network.
Existing basic bank account customers should ask their bank whether they could still be charged if a direct debit or standing order fails, and whether they are eligible for a new basic bank account.
Anyone reading this who is worried about their own debt please call free National Debt line 0808 808 4000 for help.
Published by West Briton.