Citizens Advice Scotland have called on the High Street banks in Scotland to state they will not restrict their ‘basic bank account’ holders from using ATMs of other banks.
The call comes as the head of the Nationwide bank warns of a ‘domino effect’ of banks following the lead of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds, who plan to introduce such restrictions.
CAS Chief Executive Lucy McTernan said today,
“This is an extremely worrying development. Basic Bank Accounts are used by people who have difficulty managing their money. That’s the whole point of these accounts. So, restricting ATM access for this particular group is targeting the most vulnerable.
“The people who will bear the brunt of these changes include young people, the unemployed and those on low incomes who are struggling to get by. People who live in remote and rural areas, where the numbers of ATMs are limited, will also be unfairly penalised.
“It is still only 3 years since the banks were bailed out of their own self-inflicted mess by taxpayers money. They promised at the time that they would pursue more responsible policies, with a view to protecting the public interest. The banks may have forgotten that but the public haven’t, and changes like these go directly against that spirit.
“It’s not too late for them to change their minds however, and by doing so they could send an important message. So today we call on all banks – including RBS and Lloyds – to state that they will not make these changes, and that basic bank account holders will be protected from further restrictions. If they go ahead and bring in these changes, then the government and financial regulators need to look seriously at the way the banking sector is operating, and we will certainly be raising this issue in our discussions with Ministers and MPs.”
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Notes to editors - click to expand/collapse
- Basic Bank Accounts are special accounts reserved for people who have a history of bankruptcy or poor financial management. Unlike standard bank accounts, basic accounts have no overdraft or credit facility, and so do not expose the customer or the bank to any risk. They are designed simply to allow the customer to deposit, withdraw and save money, and to manage electronic transfers (e.g. for any salaries and benefits they receive).
- CAS published a report last year on the problems associated with Basic Bank Accounts – including the difficulty people have in opening one. ‘Banking on the Basics’ is available at https://www.cas.org.uk/Publications/recent-publications/Banking+on+the+Basics