Basic Bank Account Guide

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1 A Basic Bank Account Guide Benefits Service

2 The information provided in this leaflet is correct at time of print. However, you should check the details with the chosen bank or building society when seeking to open an account. This advice leaflet has been produced in conjunction with the introduction of Local Housing Allowance from 7th April

3 What is Local Housing Allowance? Local Housing Allowance is the new way of working out Housing Benefit for tenants renting accommodation from a private landlord. Local Housing Allowance is a flat rate amount based on household size and location. It means you will receive a similar amount to other people living in similar circumstances. Local Housing Allowance will make it easier to find out in advance how much rent might be covered by your benefit entitlement. The actual amount of Housing Benefit you get will still depend on your income and savings. Why is Local Housing Allowance being introduced? Local Housing Allowance will give you as a tenant more choice in where you live, and is fairer too. With Local Housing Allowance: You will be entitled to the same amount of benefit as people in the same circumstance as you You can find out how much benefit you can get before you rent a property You can decide how much of your benefit you want to spend on renting a property You will usually get your benefit paid to you. It is up to you to pay the rent to your landlord If you provide all the information and evidence when you make your claim, you will find out about your benefit more quickly than before. Sedgemoor District Council employees are not qualified to give financial advice on which account option is best for you. The information in this leaflet gives general guidance only and should not be treated as a complete and authorative guide to available accounts. The Citizens Advice Bereau can provide you with advice on opening a basic bank account. They can also help you with debt advice and counselling. For free impartial, confidential and independent advice, call them on to make an appointment. 2

4 What is a basic bank account? A basic account is available from most bank and building societies. It is an account aimed at people who do not have banking facilities already, or for people who have problems with opening a normal current account. A basic account will allow you to receive money and then enable you to make withdrawls to pay bills. You will be able to have your housing benefit, wages, tax credits or other benefits paid into the account. The account will provide a cash card to withdraw money, and some offer direct debits and standing orders. Unlike normal current bank accounts, they do not give you a chequebook or an over draft facility. However, it is important that you keep an eye on your account balance if you have standing orders or direct debits set up because if there isn t enough funds to clear the amount due, they will be rejected and you will be charged. What is a basic bank account? You will not receive a chequebook You can pay cheques into a basic account You can have access to your account at the Post OfficeR You will be able to withdraw money from a cash machine You will be able to pay your landlord and other bills by standing order or maybe by direct debit Opening a basic account will help build you a banking history and may provide a route to many other banking services Why do I need a basic bank account? As from April 2008, the Government has decided as part of its Financial Inclusion Agenda, to make tenants responsible for paying their rent. Local Housing Allowance will be paid direct to tenants via Bankers Automated Clearing System (BACs). Payments by BACs are cleared funds. This means that you can withdraw funds and make arrangements to pay your landlord even on the same day your account is credited. 3

5 Frequently asked questions How do I keep track of my money? You will get a statement through the post from your bank or building society. The statement will show details of what money has been paid in and what has gone out. With most basic accounts you can check how much money you have and get a mini statement from a cash machine. Some banks and building societies may offer telephone banking and internet access. What will happen if there isn t enough money in my account to pay a direct debit or standing order? You will not have an overdraft facility with a basic bank account and if you pay your bills by direct debit or standing order and there isn t enough money in your account, then the bank will not be able to make the payment. You may then be charged a fee and some accounts may be closed if the payment is refused three times. It is important to make sure you have enough money in your account to pay your bills. Can I open a basic bank account whatever my credit history? Most people should be able to open a basic bank account. Your chosen bank or building society may want to check your history to see if you have any county court judgements (CCJs) against you or have been made bankrupt. But even if you have, you may still be able to open an account. Will it cost me anything to have a bank account? A bank account usually costs nothing, as long as you don t spend more money than you have in the account and go overdrawn. If you have money in your account (in credit), you are not usually charged for any of the services provided, but do double-check by reading the terms and conditions. Remember also that convenience cash machines which are not run or owned by the bank (such as those inside small shops, on garage forecourts, at railway sations, pubs and clubs) may charge you each time you withdraw money from them. 4

6 Bank Britannia Abbey National Barclays Halifax HSBC Lloyds TSB Nat West Nationwide Building Society Bridgwater Bridgwater Bridgwater Bridgwater Bridgwater Bridgwater Bridgwater Bridgwater Burnham-on-Sea Burnham-on-Sea Burnham-on-Sea Burnham-on-Sea Cheddar Cheddar Highbridge Account name Flexible Saver Basic Saver Cash Card Easy Cash Basic Cash Step Flex Minimum Deposit required None 10 None None None None Standing orders No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Cheque Book No No No No No No No No Cash Card Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Debit Card No No No Yes No Yes No No Over Draft No No No No No No No No Post Office Access No No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes (Max 300) If any of the following apply Undischarged Undischarged Undischarged Undischarged Undischarged Undischarged Undischarged Undischarged your request may be Bankrupt Bankrupt Bankrupt Bankrupt Bankrupt Bankrupt Bankrupt Bankrupt declined Record of Fraud 5 6

7 Proving your identity To open a bank account you will need to provide proof of both your address and identity. Some of the things you can use to do this are detailed below. Photocopies are not usually accepted. Acceptable proof of residence/ Identification Britannia Building Society Abbey National Full Passport Driving Licence Provisional with Photograph Pension Book Benefit Book HB Entitlement Letter Letter from DWP/Local Authority Employers ID with Photograph Utility Bill Current Council Tax Bill Signed Credit Card Credit Card Statement Student Loan Letter LEA Letter (student) HMRC/Tax Credit Letter Birth Certificate NHS Medical Card Tenancy Agreement EU Member State ID Card Armed Forces ID Card Doctors Letter Solicitors Letter UK Firearms Certificate with Photograph Motor Insurance Documents Vehicle Registration Documents TV Licence CIS Certificate (Construction Workers) 7 This is only a guide and examples of documents you may use to confirm your identity and residence. All documents should be recent. Barclays Halifax HSBC Lloyds TSB Nat West Nationwide 8

8 Where can I get further information? Citizens Advice Bureau The Lions, West Quay, Bridgwater TA6 3HW Tel: Sedgemoor District Council Benefits Service Bridgwater House, King Square, Bridgwater TA6 3AR Tel: The Post Office Tel: To find out where your nearest post office is. 9

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