Banks miserly with the school leaver: Sue Fieldman speaks up for youngsters who miss out on the special offers launched to woo students

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THE BANKS spend thousands of pounds wooing college students. But school leavers who decide to work instead of study are treated as poor relations.

The banks fall over themselves to win new student accounts, but for job-hunting school leavers there is no cash or cheap overdraft - advantages they would find most useful.

Banks offer the token gesture of discount music vouchers or cheap driving lessons, which are no use when you cannot find a job or earn too little to splash out on CDs.

This year Midland Bank offers students a cash incentive of pounds 15 and an interest-free overdraft of pounds 400. Above that figure they pay 1 per cent above base rate - 11.5 per cent APR. The account earns interest of 6 per cent gross.

Compare that with the offer for school leavers. They can open a LiveCash account, which has no cash incentive, no cheque book and no overdraft. The account earns credit interest of 5 per cent gross.

A spokesman for Midland Bank said: 'When they have a salary regularly coming in they can progress to an Orchard account, which is an interest-bearing current account. The current rate of interest is 2.5 per cent gross.'

To drop from an interest rate of 5 per cent to 2.5 per cent seems a strange sort of progress.

But the Orchard account does offer a cheque book and an overdraft. School leavers will have to pay 21.6 per cent APR for their overdraft against 11.5 per cent for students.

The Barclays Plus Account for school leavers also has no cheque book and no overdraft. The interest rate is a lowly 3 per cent.

Barclays admits that it has 'concentrated on the student market' this year.

School leavers banking with Barclays who would like an overdraft and full banking facilities can open a Barclays Interest Account, though this pays a meagre 1.5 per cent gross interest - and there are no freebies.

Lloyds Headway account for under-18s pays a good rate of interest. However, when customers reach 18 and want full facilities the Classic Account pays a pathetic 1 per gross on balances below pounds 1,000.

The Abbey National Current Account looks more interesting. It offers a free driving lesson and 25 per cent off the next five. If you have already passed your test there is pounds 15 of petrol vouchers.

There is a price to pay for the financial freedom of the road. You must have pounds 20 to open an account and have your salary paid directly into the account.

But what about the school leavers who have not found a job? If a school leaver wants an overdraft the interest rate is 24.4 per cent. Students pay 14.5 per cent.

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