On 13 July 2010 a breakfast meeting was held on the subject of basic bank accounts. Chaired by the Group’s Secretary, Yvonne Fovargue MP, and attended by over twenty parliamentarians, invited panelists were asked to respond to a new report from Citizens Advice on the lack of provision of basic bank accounts to undischarged bankrupts:
Outlining the report’s findings, Teresa Perchard, Director of Policy at Citizens Advice, said that more needed to be done for those who found themselves bankrupt and unable to open an account, thus restricting their ability to receive wages or to pay bills.
Eric Leenders, Executive Director of Retail at the British Bankers’ Association, stressed the legal problems that offering accounts to bankrupts posted to banks – in particular that after-acquired property could be transferred through bank accounts and that trustees would have to chase this. Michelle Smith, the Head of UK Consumer and Community Affairs at Barclays PLC, called for an effective partnership between banks, Government and charities in working to improve financial inclusion.
Responding for the Government, BIS Consumer Minister Ed Davey MP (pictured right addressing the meeting) said he was prepared to look at some of the legal problems that appeared to be dissuading banks from offering accounts to bankrupts, such as insolvency law. However, the Minister accepted that if Barclays and the Co-operative made accounts available to the recently bankrupted then it would not be impossible for other banks to do the same.
He also used the occasion to announce a Government consultation on access to consumer credit, which he hoped would provide insight into the various credit-related problems faced by consumers.