The proof of identity conundrum which makes it almost impossible for the homeless to get a bank account has been solved thanks to a ground breaking partnership between The Co-operative Bank and The Big Issue in the North. Up till now, Big Issue vendors have not been able to bank their day’s takings – and have often been mugged for the cash they have earned.
From today , a pilot scheme will enable Big Issue vendors in Manchester to visit the Bank’s Balloon Street branch and open a ‘Cashminder’ bank account, without the need to produce the types of proof of identification which are often not available to those selling the Big Issue.
Anti-money laundering regulations dictate that financial institutions demand strict forms of identification from potential customers, e.g. passport, driving licence, utility bills, none of which vendors are likely to possess. What forms of ID they do have are often lost, stolen or destroyed through life on the street.
Now The Co-operative Bank working with The Big Issue in the North, and its vendors, have come up with some solutions. The Bank will accept a letter of recommendation from the Trust, or a Big Issue in the North badge as proof of ID. Members of staff at the Bank’s Balloon Street branch have been trained to meet the special banking needs of vendors.
The account will give vendors a card to draw out money at cash machines, and enable them to set up direct debit and standing order facilities. Vendors will also be able to deposit cash at the counter and, outside of banking hours, at the Bank’s night deposit facility. This will enable vendors to save their day’s earnings, and will also give them extra security as they will not have to carry around amounts of cash.
Val Chinn, Chief Executive of The Big Issue in the North, said “Our vendors are often the victims of violence because people see them on the streets all day earning money and know that they often have nowhere to keep it safely. The new Cashminder account offered by The Co-operative Bank is a great example of partnership working. The flexible approach adopted by The Co-operative Bank will make a real difference to our vendors and help them build up funds for their future.”
Paul Sirman, Branch Manager at The Co-operative Bank’s Balloon Street branch, said “The Co-operative Bank is delighted to be linking up with The Big Issue in the North for this pilot scheme.
“Financial institutions have had to abide by strict regulations concerning identification of customers and this has led to certain people being excluded from the banking system. We have worked hard with The Big Issue in the North to look for solutions to this problem. Hopefully this pilot scheme will prove to be successful and we can launch this scheme on a national level.”
The Big Issue in the North is a business solution to a social problem. It enables homeless people to earn an income by selling the magazine.
The Big Issue in the North is a registered charity (No. 1056041) with a business-like approach to ending homelessness. It works to help homeless people move on from homelessness and into good homes, good jobs, good health and a good life.
The Trust’s work covers the North of England – an area which includes more than 124 towns and cities.
The Cashminder basic bank account and this pilot are only two of many ways in which The Co-operative Bank is tackling the problem of financial exclusion. The Bank has also designed a basic bank account to meet the needs of refugees; provides cash machines and other financial services in local communities through Co-operative retailers and is a strong supporter of the Credit Union movement.Details