Financial sustainability

Banking troubles? Tell us about it!

Has your organisation experienced any difficulties with banking services? If so, we want to hear from you. Complete the Civil Society Group's survey by Friday, 6 May.

There’s been growing talk about problems relating to bank accounts over the past few months. These include being unable to open an account, problems with verification of identity for the organisation and/or individual trustees or office holders, lengthy processes to change the mandate and other operational aspects.

There have been questions around access to bank branches, particularly in suburban and rural areas which tend to have fewer bank branches, and where branch closures over recent years have exacerbated the situation. Perennial concerns recur about the future of the Post Office network, with customers relying on almost 12,000 Post Offices across the UK for banking, adding to the stress. Digital skills and availability of reliable high-speed broadband also feature.

Most recently, the decision by HSBC to end free banking for charities and move customers to its new Charitable Bank Account, costing £5 per month, has led to concerns around affordability and the future of cost-free, essential services.

In March 2022, CFG’s Director of Policy and Communications Dr Clare Mills took part in a roundtable at HM Treasury on banking issues with senior leaders from several high street banks, UK Finance (the membership body for the banking industry) and the Charity Commission, thanks to the involvement of Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen MP.

“Operational issues on banking are time consuming and a worrying experience for individual organisations,” said Clare Mills. “But cumulatively this becomes a sector wide issue of risk. We have all worked to embed responsible accounting and cash management practices across the sector but difficulties in using bank accounts could see some organisations returning to less secure and transparent behaviours.

“CFG will be part of a new working group which the Minister has asked UK Finance to bring together to identify and address specific problems. We’ll be keeping members and the wider sector up-to-date at this work progresses.”

At the same time, CFG has been working with other charity infrastructure bodies – NCVO, ACRE and WCVA – to develop a survey on experiences of banking across the voluntary and community sector.

“We want to hear from any charity trustee or member of staff who can tell us about the difficulties they have encountered,” Clare Mills added. “The more data we can gather, the clearer our understanding of the scope and scale of problems will be. This is turn will help us in our discussions and work with UK Finance and the banking industry.

“We’re really grateful to people who are taking the time to tell us about the issues affecting them. We hope people will share the survey widely across their networks to reach as much of the sector as possible.”

Please complete the survey and share this story with your networks.

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