(June 2021) Opening Bank Accounts in the community

We’ve been having some difficulties supporting patients to open a bank account. It’s been really difficult to do this online and obviously with the lockdowns patients haven’t always had leave to visit branches.
It’s also been difficult as many of our patients don’t have ID. We had an arrangement with the Santander in Willerby whereby we provided a covering letter as a form of ID but they’ve now changed the procedures and this is no longer possible.
If anyone from the network could provide us with any advice on how they’ve supported their patients to open bank accounts it would be greatly appreciated.
I recently had a similar issue with one of our patients.  TSB declined to open an account even when we provided acceptable ID.  We then approached a local credit union and opened an account through them, they then arranged an ‘Engage’ debit card to be sent once the account was open.  They accepted a letter from either an RC or social worker confirming they knew the patient as long as this had been posted to the patient (dated within 3 months).  They also then used the proof of benefits letter from the DWP as the second ID.  (Amber Lodge)
I’ve had several hours on the phone to the bank with the service users on Sandal ward and it would appear that each bank sets out different protocols. The issues I have been dealing with have been around accessing information/ funds and setting up transfers not opening an account and I’ve been faced with major difficulties. I’m sorry I can’t help but given the conversations I have had I think other than going directly into the bank with ID you will find it very difficult. It might be worth asking to speak to the safeguarding team if they have one, because they can discuss the difficulties and you can work on behalf of the service user and can authorise an over-ride to some of the procedure. It is to note not all banks have this team and off the top of my head I can’t remember which bank I liaised with and was linked in with them. Hope this might be of some use if not sorry and good luck. (Bretton Centre)
The majority of our chaps tend to have the leave to attend in person, so it’s mainly been a covering letter which was required for ID purposes. We generally provided that confirmation by letter through the Clinical Team (Social Work or RC). There are very different external approaches to this however, as Bretton highlights! (Newton Lodge)
Opening bank accounts with people who do not have leave, ID or their own mobile phone is a nightmare. Even trying to get people access to bank accounts they already own has been a trial and seems to now require a mobile phone (instead of just email) for people to transfer money. Wathwood Hospital has recently put in some support regarding changing the procedure for access of mobile phones off ward to help with this issue. We have had success with using letters from social workers and RCs as ID in the past, but as you mentioned the rules have been tightened up by the banks. One of the things people have done is applying for photo ID (provisional driving licence or passport) and a collaborative approach between OT and social work has helped. Once photo ID is received then it is a bit easier since some banks allow it to be scanned and emailed to them. The other thing that might be worth a try is looking at the more basic bank accounts which have fewer services available than the usual current accounts – the banks are supposed to offer these to people who would otherwise struggle to open an current account, but I think you need to request it. I sourced some info on them last year and have attached the information to this email. This includes certain documents that could be tried instead of the photo ID. The info comes from this website: https://hub.unlock.org.uk/knowledgebase/basic-bank-accounts/: However I have not tried to open a new bank account since last year prior to lockdown where the last success was with the Co-op Bank when the person was able to visit the branch, but did use social worker and RC letters for ID instead of a photo ID .A colleague has recently made some progress with Santander and HSBC looking at opening a  basic bank accounts online but they may have come up against the wall of either not being able to go into the branch or not having photo ID. I’ll check with them when they are back in. (Wathwood)
I have chatted with my colleague and they were also unsuccessful in setting up a new bank account. Basically the bank said that they would accept letters from social worker and RC for ID if the person could visit the branch, otherwise a passport / driving license is required for ID. We are much more successful in reactivating past accounts and we try to encourage people to consider whether they have an account we could use rather than setting up a new one. Obviously this isn’t always possible especially with common issues around unpaid loans. (Wathwood)
Last week we took a service user to our local Virgin Money to open a new bank account. The SU did not have any ID, all the bank required was a letter of introduction from their consultant. The instructions from the bank were: Letter of Introduction from a Doctor, The letter must be an original letter (not a photocopy), Addressed to the manager of your local Virgin Money branch, Typed on headed paper, Signed, Dated within the last 3 months, Needs to confirm Full Name, Address including postcode, and date of birth of the applicant, Needs to include Full Name, role and contact details of the introducer and their relationship to the applicant, Confirm that the individual had no standard ID documents and why. (Bretton Centre)