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NCC: Make changes to encourage low-income consumers

20 November 2006

The National Consumer Council (NCC) has said that financial exclusion can be combated if those with low-incomes are encouraged to open bank accounts.

According to the NCC, basic bank accounts on the market do not hold much appeal for low-income consumers, who could benefit if the process of opening an account and features involved were made simpler.

A three-step plan has been advised by the NCC to banks, which recommends that accounts can be opened easily and "hassle-free", with a basic set of features and improvements including weekly text alerts and tips on avoiding default charges.

"Now that more low-income consumers are starting to engage with the banking system, new problems with the design and delivery of accounts have come to light," said Nicola O'Reilly, NCC senior policy advocate.

She added that the recommendations will address "the mismatch between what people want from banks and what they actually get".

The NCC's three-step plan follows a report by the Treasury select committee last week, which discussed the need to tackle financial exclusion and the inaccessibility of some bank accounts.

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