British Banking Association welcomes more basic accounts

21 November 2006
The British Banking Association (BBA) has welcomed the Treasury select committee report released over the weekend which recognises the achievements of the sector in financial inclusion.

Banks and legislators teamed up in April 2003 to promote open entry-level accounts, and the report finds that more basic bank accounts are being opened than ever before, widening access to banking facilities among the financially excluded.

The BBA has emphasised that, since 2003, the Banking Code has been reformed to meet access concerns, ensuring that pamphlets in bank branches contain more references to basic bank account options and making basic accounts operational within ten working days.

But the National Consumer Council (NCC) last week challenged banks to do more, calling for features such as a buffer zone to avoid penalty charges, face-to-face inductions to welcome new basic account customers, and weekly text alerts.

Nicola O'Reilly, NCC senior policy advocate, said that "many people fail to take their first step in banking because they feel intimidated and unwanted".

Concerns around banking access recently focused on the First Direct £10 charge on customers paying under £1,500 monthly into a current account, which critics were concerned would penalise lower-income savers.

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