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How is HSBC leading UK banks to break the homeless cycle?
10 February 2022

How is HSBC leading UK banks to break the homeless cycle?

In response to rising homelessness, HSBC partnered with Shelter to promote its ‘No Fixed Address’ service which aims to break the homeless cycle, that sees people stuck in an endless loop without a home.

The campaign, which originally launched in June 2021, offers financial support to people without a fixed address. This would help those who have been denied a job or housing application due to not having a bank account, something you can typically only secure with a fixed address. So far, only those receiving support from Shelter or Crisis, can access the No Fixed Address Program with HSBC.

Assistant director of marketing and content, James Allen at Shelter said, “Not having a bank account makes it nearly impossible to escape the cycle of homelessness. So, this game-changing service is giving more people who have fallen on hard times a helping hand towards gaining financial independence and rebuilding their lives.”

The campaign has been a big success at highlighting the issues homeless people can face when trying to secure a property or get off the streets. Within the first two weeks of the campaign, HSBC saw an increased uptake of No Fixed Address bank accounts by 52%, helping homeless citizens to reconnect with society (Wunderman Thompson).

How has Covid impacted homelessness and these services?

According to research published by Shelter in December 2021, 274,000 people were reported as homeless in England, with “one in every 206 people currently without a home”. These shocking figures are expected to increase further in 2022, due to the government’s Covid protections coming to an end. An example of this is the increased universal credit boost, the ‘Everyone In’ scheme and the eviction ban. This month, Inside Housing also reported that since the eviction ban was lifted in June, everyday nearly 400 households have been made homeless.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “We predicted the pandemic would trigger a rising tide of evictions and our services are starting to see the reality of this now. We’re flooded with calls from families and people of all ages who are homeless or on the verge of losing their home.”

In response to the concern, the government announced a £316 million grant for councils to help those who are homeless or at risk of losing their home. This would “help them find a new home, access support for unexpected evictions and secure temporary accommodation where needed.” (Gov.uk)

The partnership between HSBC and Shelter, has assisted in bringing the challenges with homelessness to the front of the public’s mind. It has ensured people are educated and are signposted to the correct support services. The campaign also generated donations to help get people off the street, with one in five donators becoming regular donors.

Campaigns like HSBC and Shelter’s Vicious Circle not only raise awareness of the growing issue but work with government support to offer a service which can help to get people back on their feet and in a stable position. Councils also have an additional support mechanism which alleviates some pressure on their services, enabling them to help more people.

But what are the challenges with No Fixed Address bank accounts?

HSBC aren’t the only bank offering ‘No Fixed Address’ account schemes;Monzo offers ‘a No Barriers to Banking’ initiative while Lloyds, Revolut and Starling are offering similar services. This kind of account is challenging the stereotype that banks are solely financially driven corporations; they are instead working to help society and those most in need.

However, these types of bank accounts run the risk of attracting fraudsters who could use the services to gain access to multiple accounts. Working closely with homeless charities, banks have more confidence when issuing accounts to each individual, thereby ensuring it is used correctly.

The schemes have also highlighted the challenges of a ‘cashless society’ and the support required to assist individuals accessing their funds, making payments and mobile banking. These concerns have been aggravated further with the closure of high street bank branches across the country. At the beginning of January 2022, TSB announced it was shutting 70 branches and Lloyds confirmed 42 branches would be permanently closed by April 2022.

Fuelled by the growth of debit card payments and the rise of contactless payments, cash use is in decline. UK Finance “predict that cash will fall to 16% of payments by 2027”, a drop in 18% from 2019 (Access to Cash Review, 2019). This has a knock-on effect to homeless people relying on cash as their sole source of income and payments system. This is precisely why banking support is invaluable to help break the homeless cycle.

At adam, we are proud to help support local authorities in combating the homelessness crisis by developing a housing solution to provide a quicker response for those in need of temporary accommodation. If you work for a local authority or play a role in securing accommodation, speak to adam Product Manager, Ben Carter today, to find out more.

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