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HSBC expands bank account service to help the homeless

Written by: Emma Lunn
People without a fixed home address can now open bank accounts with HSBC in more than 100 branches across the UK.

HSBC launched its No Fixed Address service in December 2019 in 31 branches.

Working with national homelessness charities Shelter and Crisis, as well as local organisations and councils, it aims to provide individuals with access to a basic bank account without the need for photo ID or proof of address.

So far, the bank has opened 700 accounts under its No Fixed Address service, with more than half of these openings taking place during the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest government snapshot figures show 2,668 people were recorded as street homeless in England on a given night in the autumn of 2020. Although, this snapshot has fallen in the past year, it is still 52% higher than in 2010 when data first started being collected.

But according to Shelter, more than 253,000 people in England have been recorded as homeless and living in temporary accommodation during the pandemic. This is the highest figure for 14 years, and there will be many more people who are sofa-surfing or not captured by official statistics.

Having a bank account can make it easier to claim benefits, receive wages and pay rent.

Traditionally, banks require photo identification such as a passport or driving licence as well as proof of address, which could be a council tax or energy bill, to open an account. But these are documents which many people experiencing homelessness may not have or find difficult to keep safe.

At participating HSBC UK branches, individuals without a fixed address can open a bank account when accompanied by a caseworker and using the address of the charity supporting them.

Maxine Pritchard, head of financial inclusion and vulnerability at HSBC UK, said: “No one in today’s society should be without a bank account, but if you don’t have a fixed address it can be very difficult to get one. HSBC is changing this and with every branch that offers the service we have the opportunity to make a difference to more people’s lives.

“I am incredibly proud that we can play our part in helping some of society’s most marginalised and vulnerable people access the services necessary to help break the cycle of homelessness and become financially independent.”

Polly Neate, CEO of Shelter, said: “The cruel impact of the Covid crisis has tipped thousands of people into homelessness and left many with no option but to sleep rough. It’s hard enough battling the elements and surviving the daily dangers of the streets. If you are then cut off from receiving financial support or have no way to get your wages paid, it can be even harder to break free of the clutches of homelessness.

“HSBC’s determination to extend the No Fixed Address service to even more branches across the country, despite the challenges of the pandemic, is fantastic and so important. It means even more people can take a key step towards financial independence that will hopefully help them to re-build their lives.”

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