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High-street banks pledge to support charities amid sector’s banking woes 

07 Dec 2023 News

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High-street banks have pledged to support the charity sector after the charity regulators recently called for “urgent action to help hard-pressed charities”. 

Last month, the chief executives of the Charity Commission, Charity Commission for Northern Ireland and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator urged the UK’s main high-street banks to improve their “substandard” services for charities.

In their letter, the signatories discussed the longstanding issues faced by charities, saying that many have been experiencing “poor customer service and administrative delays”. 

Lloyds Banking Group, Metro Bank and Santander told Civil Society that charities play a crucial role in supporting communities, and said that they are committed to supporting them.

Meanwhile, HSBC said that it had received the letter and “we’re considering our response” while Barclays said that it “will be responding to the letter”, with its response “sent directly to the regulators”.

Santander: ‘We’re keen to ensure charities’ banking experience is as streamlined as possible’

A spokesperson for Santander said: “We recognise that charities play an important role in supporting communities across the country and we’re keen to ensure that their banking experience is as streamlined as possible, taking into account our regulatory responsibilities. 

“We’ve recently introduced changes to better support our charity customers, including simplifying our identification and verification requirements which we know can often be a problem charities face. 

“We’re also working with industry peers to develop a toolkit to help charities understand what bank accounts are available to them and best suits their needs.”

Metro Bank: ‘We’re committed to supporting charities’

A spokesperson for Metro Bank said that the bank’s “ambition is to be the number one community bank”. 

“We’re committed to supporting charities – large and small – with high-quality financial services so they can continue to help the most vulnerable in our society. We have a compelling proposition that supports charities in our communities.
 
“We stand out from many of our banking peers by continuing to offer a dedicated community account for charities, clubs and societies. This account provides an ideal solution for any charity with an annual turnover up to £250,000, providing our full range of account services at no monthly fee. We also provide community account holders with 200 transactions per month and up to £10,000 in cash withdrawals/deposits per month free of charge.”

Lloyds: ‘We’re proud to provide services to the important charity sector’

Lloyds Banking Group said that it has been working with its independent charitable foundations, UK Finance and NCVO to better understand the banking needs of the charity sector.

A spokesperson said: “Charities play a vital role in the health and wellbeing of communities across the UK. Working with our independent charitable foundations, as well as NCVO, enables us to ensure we are meeting charities’ banking needs.

“We’ve invested in our online and digital banking services and we’re proud to continue to provide services to the important charity sector.”

Charity Commission: ‘Progress on the issue is long overdue’

The Charity Commission said that it has “now had responses from a number of banks which will inform our next steps on this matter”. 

“Charities are on the frontline of the current cost-of-living crisis, providing vital support to people across the country. As our chief executive has stated, it’s paramount that UK high street banks improve the services they offer charities, with urgency,” a spokesperson said.

“Because progress on the issue is long overdue, we took the unusual step of publishing an open letter with our counterparts in Scotland and Northern Ireland. What we have heard since the open letter was published has further reinforced our view that there are widespread problems in the way banks engage with their charity customers.”

For more news, interviews, opinion and analysis about charities and the voluntary sector, sign up to receive the free Civil Society daily news bulletin here.

 

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