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Bank accounts and Credit Unions

With changes to the way that benefits are paid, people are increasingly being asked to provide bank accounts for their universal credit and other benefit payments to be paid in to: we appreciate that some of our customers might find this difficult due to the identification needed by some banks.

Generally a passport or driving licence plus a recent utility bill is required, but if you don't have these they will accept a tenancy agreement and letter of reference from your landlord. Benefit letters from DWP or HMRC can sometimes be accepted too. You may also need an interview at the bank.

Everyone is entitled to a 'basic' bank account and all the main banks offer this service in line with Government guidelines. These accounts are generally 'cash card' accounts and will have Direct Debit and standing order facilities. Some banks might charge for extra facilities, so be careful you are not signing up to more expense than you need.

Internet banking can be a good option too as you can check your accounts whenever you need to through a computer or mobile device.

Credit unions

Credit unions are member owned financial co-operatives that operate in a 'not for profit' way. They are regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

We have teamed up with eight other social housing providers to join a scheme promoting credit unions in the south west. The Credit Union Sustainability Partnership, run by Advantage South West, aims to spread the word about the advantages of credit unions.

Westcountry Savings and Loans were selected to be the credit union that we support. They provide savings accounts and affordable borrowing. They have a range of products and online services available including instant access savers accounts and savings bonds. They consider everyone as an individual, having the personal touch that is often lacking with high street banks. You can find out more at or give them a call on 0800 304 7041.

We’re also here to help you if you want to talk to us about banks or credit unions. Get in touch with our money matters team.

Our money matters team are here to help

Our money matters advisors can give you advice and help with claiming benefits, reducing household costs, opening bank accounts and find debt advice if needed.