It’s reported that pay for bailed-out bankers shot up to just under £4 million last year, compared with £1.7m in 2000 – an increase of 130 per cent.
Meanwhile, the unemployed live on £67.50 a week, considered enough by the government – and this week my bank took almost 50% of this weekly amount in bank charges.
Living on a limited amount of money – with no access to extra income is not enough to stop the banks ripping us off. Should someone – already living in poverty – go just a penny overdrawn the banks simply take their charges as usual.
My bank has twice taken £30 from my bank account for what it calls Unpaid Direct Debit Fee. So a bill is unpaid and I face a £30 fee.
I researched the law as best I could, finding section 187 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 and/or Section 45 of the Tax Credits Act 2002.
“The purpose of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 Section 187 and section 45 of the Tax Credits Act 2002 is to prevent people’s benefit money being at risk by it being assigned over to a third party in settlement of a debt.”
This sounded promising until I read: “It is not intended to prohibit the application of bank charges. Bank charges are in the nature of an expense, and are incurred by the holder of the account; tax credits and benefits are payable in order to help customers meet their expenses, and as such it is legitimate for banks to deduct charges from the balance of an account held in that bank, whether the money paid into the account comes from tax credits, benefits or other sources, such as earnings.
I wrote to my bank explaining the difficulties caused in taking such a large amount from my benefits and not paying the bill.
“On August 1 Nationwide took £30 from my account. My bank statement reads: Aug 1 30 Unpaid DD (x2). It was explained to me last time this happened that it was because I had gone overdrawn.
£15 was then returned to me on August 1, 2011 as a goodwill gesture.
However, a further payment of £30 with the same information was taken on September 1, 2011.
This time the account is not overdrawn. My account has not been overdrawn since August 1, 2011, when the last fee was charged.
Can someone please explain why this is happened?
I recognise that the Bank is within its rights to take money from my limited benefits should I become overdrawn. I ask, though, that the Bank take into account the serious financial hardship this causes.
As I have explained I am on a very limited income of £135 a fortnight.
A charge of £30, which is almost have of my entire weekly income (£67.50), means I have to go without meals, heating, transport and it impacts in many other ways.
This also only serves to add to my financial problems.
Not only am I left with a bill unpaid but have the added cost of the bank charge, plunging me further into debt and poverty.
This is not about mis-managing my account but the bank charges in and of themselves are making it impossible for me to manage my income and the problem will be repeated endlessly.
I ask [the bank] to consider its action in taking £30 in fees, not paying a bill and plunging me into very real poverty.”
I’m planning to see this through and will no find out which fat cat to write to once the bank ignores my plea – because thanks to this extortionate charge both Chaplin and I again face a few weeks with limited food.
Amount of money I have: £15
Interviews I have: Two – on the same day