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Bank account access improved by joint venture

22 October 2009 / by Andy Davies

The number of adults living in households without having access to bank accounts has been cut in half.

Following a joint venture by the Government and the banks, the latest report on access to banking by the Financial Inclusion Taskforce has revealed that the number of people without access to a bank account has fallen from two million in 2004 to less than 900,000 in 2008.

Efforts have been made by the banks and the Government in the past five years to ensure that everyone has access to appropriate financial services – which it is hoped will enable people to effectively manage their money on a day to day basis, while also coping with short-term variations in income and expenditure, and general financial stress.

Pleased by the report, Sarah McCarthy-Fry, exchequer secretary to the Treasury believes "this very important goal has now been achieved".

"The shared goal is a great example of government, industry and third sector partners working together to ensure that everyone can access the financial services they need to get by day-to-day," she said.

Brian Pomeroy, chair of the Financial Inclusion Taskforce, also welcomed the findings.

"This is extremely good news and it means that many more people can now use transactional banking to make and receive payments as well as holding their money in a secure and accessible way," he said.

However, Mr Pomeroy is calling on the Government, the banks and the Financial Services Authority to ensure service standards in banks are "upheld and scrutinised" to ensure these "gains are not lost".

"And we must not lose sight of the possibilities for making further inroads into the number of people who are unbanked," he added.

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