Banks have been urged to treat people who have gone bankrupt fairly and give them access to a basic account.

Charity Citizens Advice says the majority of banks refuse to let undischarged bankrupts even open a basic bank account, that does not have an overdraft facility, despite no legal justification for this.

It says only two out of the 17 banks and building societies that offer basic bank accounts allow those who are going through bankruptcy to open one (see the Best Bank Accounts guide).

The charity says the banks' stance increases financial exclusion for bankrupts. It urges these institutions to make the accounts more widely available.

There was a 249% jump in the number of people going bankrupt between 2000 and 2009.

The most common reason people gave for going bankrupt was that they had suffered an unexpected change in their circumstances, such as job loss, illness, accident or relationship breakdown.


Citizens Advice says denying people who are bankrupt a basic bank account is demoralising and impractical, and also makes it extremely difficult for them to take control of their finances and make a fresh start.

It says people who do not have an account may have to use the accounts of friends and family, leading to dependence and them having to carry around large amounts of cash.

It also prevents them from benefiting from the discounts available through paying bills by direct debit or buying items online.

In the most extreme cases, it could stop people getting a job or lead to them losing their job, because some employers will only pay wages into a bank account.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, says: "Great progress has been made in improving access to bank accounts for many groups who were previously financially excluded, yet there are still groups, such as undischarged bankrupts, who struggle to open even a basic bank account.

"Most people take having a bank account for granted, but without access to one, basic tasks such as receiving wages or benefits and paying bills can become huge and costly obstacles to overcome, particularly for people who are often at a vulnerable point in their lives.

"Both the Treasury Select Committee and an independent Banking Code review have called for more banks to make their basic accounts available to undischarged bankrupts."

Further reading/key links

Top accounts: Best Bank Accounts
Inflation-beating savings rates: Savings Accounts
Do a budget: Budget Planner