Julian Knight: Get those without bank accounts through the doors

High-street names should be obliged to encourage the three million left in the cold

Reading the recommendations of the banking commission I was hit with a keen sense of déjà vu. In particular, the proposal that high street banks should have to sign up to a voluntary code which will see them having to make it easier for the three million or so Britons who are unbanked to access basic bank account services.

Nearly a decade ago the voluntary Banking Code was adapted to contain a very similar injunction on the banking sector over its treatment of the unbanked. Some strides were made, particularly by Lloyds TSB, to get more of the unbanked into the system, but ultimately the profit imperative won out and millions remained on the sidelines, prey to the "cheque-cashing" sharks and payday lenders.

Mystery shops by charities and groups like Which? revealed that bank staff routinely put unnecessary barriers in the way of basic bank account applicants in the name of the ubiquitous and rather pointless money-laundering rules (which in themselves have been deliberately gold plated by banks, I believe, to allow them to turn customers they don't want away).

So what will be different this time around? Nothing, I would suggest, unless the voluntary code actually has tough action to back it up.

Here is my idea. Let's link the access to central funds such as the Bank of England's funding for lending scheme not just to a commitment to lending to the wider economy but to banks taking on the unbanked millions in double-quick time.

Let's set each a target of people they must get through their doors – starting with the part state-owned institutions – and if they fail to reach them the doors of the Bank of England should be closed to them.

Give shares to savers

So it looks like at least one of the state-owned banks is going to be reprivatised (as ugly a word as you'd wish to read) potentially before the next election.

Lloyds is the most likely as it has been quicker to get back on its feet than the once-practically bust Royal Bank of Scotland. This is no small achievement for Lloyds and its staff, who had to take on the dead loss which was the Halifax. I remember its chief, Antonio Horta-Osorio, describing to me (in his Santander days) the takeover of Halifax by Lloyds as being like a snake digesting a poison bull.

But instead of a tell sid-style 1980s flotation I have an idea which, if it could be afforded, would give a real fill-up to Britain's sadly diminished savings culture.

Why not gift the shares to Britain's older savers? It is they who have had to face the brunt of the cost of the financial crisis as their savings rates have been kept artificially low in order to prop up those who overborrowed during the boom.

It was necessary for the Bank of England to cut rates as it did as potentially hundreds of thousands faced losing their homes, but the total cost has been £100bn in lost savings returns, in the main for the elderly.

What would be good about gifting these shares to older savers is that they could earn dividend income and then pass them on to their children on death, thereby genuinely boosting multi-generational share ownership in this country.

Open house non-event

Our neighbours are selling up and being pitched for the de-rigueur estate agency ploy of the moment – the open house event.

Apparently an open house creates a sense of excitement (ie competition) among buyers and inconveniences the vendor (and the estate agent therefore) the least.

But are these open house events all that? You may get lots of people through the door but who is sure that they are right sort of person – have they already sold their property for instance and is this the sort of property they would go for?

There is also a safety issue. Apparently open house events were once used extensively in the United States and have fallen out of fashion as there were many instances of burglaries taking place soon after the event.

In effect it would be used as a means of casing the property for valuable possessions. It is far harder to keep a lid on this sort of activity and vet buyers through an open house strategy than individual viewings.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
newsAstonishing moment a kangaroo takes down a drone
Life and Style
Duchess of Cambridge standswith officials outside of the former wartime spy centre in Bletchley Park
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

    £43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

    SThree: Graduate Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'