Simon Read: Our banks need to ensure that basic needs are met

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The Independent Online

Among a whole raft of proposals made by the the Commission on Banking Standards in a 570-page report published this week was a call for the major banks to commit themselves to "minimum standards" for basic accounts.

It recommended that the Government introduce "a statutory duty to open an account that will deliver a comprehensive service to the unbanked".

This is crucial. Everyone deserves access to banking services, otherwise they are charged more because they can't pay by direct debit or plastic.

Basic bank accounts are a stepping stone for financially excluded poor people. They don't offer overdrafts, but do let people into the world of online payments and money management. Many who start with a basic account graduate onto full banking services.

But they are difficult to open as banks don't profit from them. That has to change – and must start with banks' attitude to poor people.

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