moneyThe banking sector needs to make it easier for customers who have a learning disability to access key services, a new report has claimed.

The report by Dosh, a not-for-profit organisation that supports people with a learning disability to be more independent and have more control over their money, found that some current laws and regulations make it difficult for people with a learning disability to open an account.

A 2013 poll conducted by Ipsos MORI in association with Scope found that 23% of people with a learning disability found it physically difficult to access their bank or building society, compared with only 12% of people across all disabilities. In addition, 71% of people with a learning disability are confident with managing their personal finances, compared with 84% of people across all disabilities.

Dosh’s report, called Access to banking for people with a learning disability, highlighted common problems including:
• Providing proof of identity if they do not possess standard forms of proof such as a driving licence, utility bill or passport. Branch staff can be unaware of alternative options for providing proof of identity
• Accessing money, such as gaining physical access to branches, access to cash via ATMs and counters, using telephone and internet banking, security requirements such as a PIN, accessible information, support from branch staff and cooperation with support staff and family members
• Inconsistency in the provision of services and information between banks and staff members.

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The report made several recommendations, including:
• Producing written guidance for banking staff on how to support someone to access banking and how to understand mental capacity
• Training for banking staff on the guidance above, the bank’s policies, good practice in support and disability awareness
• Developing easy read information in leaflets, agreements, bank statements and other aspects of the service
• Providing clear, accessible information explaining what the law says, how to get support and how to deal with problems.

Report author and Dosh financial advocate, Meike Beckford, said: “We are keen to engage with the banking sector to further their efforts in making banking accessible for everyone. We have already begun work with the British Bankers’ Association, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and the Financial Conduct Authority to develop joint solutions and we look forward to working with others in the sector in the future.

“It is important that people with a learning disability have the opportunity to be independent, and they receive the right support to do this. We feel we can use our experience to improve access to banking and make a real difference in people’s lives.”