Bank account `a legal right'

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The Independent Online
BIFU, the banking union, has called on the government to make access to a basic bank account "a legal right", in an attempt to tackle the problem of financial exclusion. In a motion passed at the union's annual conference in Liverpool, delegates also demanded that banks consult on branch closures and that financial institutions undertake to provide services to the entire community.

A spokesperson said the union was particularly keen to ensure everyone had access to direct debit facilities, as payment by direct debit often means lower per unit prices. He added that the union had been campaigning against financial exclusion - the act of denying people access to basic banking services - for some time, and welcomed the government's recent decision to establish a social exclusion unit.