Have you got a working bank account?

In the future, benefit payments will only be paid into bank accounts. If you don’t have one already, it’s very important that you open a basic bank account as soon as possible.

Bank accounts can be confusing and some may have fees and costs attached to them that may put you off. You may have also been refused a bank account if you have previously been declared bankrupt.

In response, the Government and the main high street banks have introduced a new bank account called a Basic Bank Account. All you have to do is ask for one.

Having a bank account will mean you can pay your bills by direct debit which will help you manage your money better. Below is a brief guide that we have put together to provide you with the key information you will need to help you set up a basic bank account. We cannot recommend a particular bank, but we can offer advice on how to manage an account.

If you need any assistance with this, please contact our call centre on 0333 400 8222 and ask for the debt and benefit customer accounts team.

What do I ask for at the bank?

- These bank accounts are not advertised so you will need to go in and ask to open a basic bank account.

What information do I need to set up a bank account?

- You will need to have proof of your identity, e.g. passport, driving licence, benefit book, benefit entitlement letters
- You will also need proof of where you live, e.g. gas bill, water bill, council tax bill, landline telephone bill
- They will only accept original paper copies and not print outs from the internet
- If you struggle to provide any of the accepted forms of identification, speak to the bank and explain the situation, they may be able to offer alternatives.

Can I open a joint account with my partner?

- Yes, but you can’t use the same form of identity or proof of where you live. You will both need separate copies.

I’ve got a poor credit score/have been bankrupt, will they refuse me?

- No, these particular bank accounts are set up for people with poor credit scores who wouldn’t normally pass the
credit checks for normal bank accounts

- Previous county court judgements (CCJs) or bankruptcy is not usually a barrier.

I’ve been charged before when I had no money in my account – what if that happens again?

- Basic bank accounts are free from all charges
- There is no overdraft facility
- The bank will not charge you for unpaid direct debits, but this doesn’t mean that the company you are making a payment to will not.

How do I set up my bills to come out of my bank account?

- Once your bank account is set up, you can set up direct debits to pay your regular bills, such as gas and electric and council tax. Simply contact the provider of the services and ask to set up a direct debit using your new bank account details.