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70% OF THE PUBLIC DEMAND BETTER BANKING FOR ALL

55% believe financial services are essential or very important to everyday living
70% think it should be a basic right for all to have access to mainstream financial services such as bank accounts, loans, overdrafts and credit cards18-02-2010

 As banks remain in the spotlight for their continuing bonus culture, a new survey of the general public shows strong popular demand for reform to the banking system so everyone can access mainstream financial services. The survey was commissioned by the Better Banking Campaign, a coalition of charities and community organisations aiming to tackle financial exclusion by increasing access to mainstream financial services for people and businesses who most need it.
 
Between 5 - 7 million people cannot access mainstream credit (overdrafts, loans, credit cards) while an estimated 1.75 million adults don’t have access to even a basic bank account. Many are forced to borrow money from payday lenders and home credit companies sometimes charging as much as 2,500% APR. Some 25,000 businesses a year with viable propositions are unable to access finance.
 
The campaign is calling for:
•    Transparency – full disclosure from financial institutions on where they invest their money, to help government understand the size of the problem and increase efficiency by targeting spending on the areas where it is most needed
•    A cap on unfair interest  rates for those who cannot afford them
•    Incentives and obligations for financial institutions to encourage them to offer mainstream financial services to all who need them
 
Steve Wyler, a spokesperson for the campaign, said:
“Considering how much public money has propped up the financial institutions, it is deplorable that they aren’t currently supporting the people and businesses most in need in our communities. Most people believe access to bank accounts and affordable credit are basic rights, so we want to see this as a priority for all the political parties.”
 
“We are not talking about lending for lending’s sake, we talking about responsible lending to people and businesses who want to get on, who come from communities who would benefit greatly from better access to mainstream financial services.”
 
Over 40,000 residents in Thamesmead are experiencing first hand the impact of financial exclusion.  With no bank in the town and only a handful of cash machines an estimated 1,200 households in Thamesmead may be accessing funds from illegal suppliers.
 
The campaign is calling on the public to pledge their support by signing up at www.betterbanking.org.uk.
 

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