Skip Navigation LinksMerton Council ❮ Benefits, Council Tax and housing ❮ Benefits ❮ Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support ❮ 

Basic Bank accounts and money advice


Most banks provide basic bank accounts that give access to limited banking facilities. These accounts can be set up for people who would not normally get a current account.

What are basic bank accounts?

Generally speaking these accounts allow you to receive your income and withdraw cash from cash machines but do not allow you to have an overdraft facility, cheque book, debit card or credit card.

Some do allow the issue of Solo or Visa Electron cards that can be used to buy goods in shops.

Most Basic Bank Accounts are credit scored and this means that you may be eligible to upgrade your account to a current account at a future date.

Why have a basic bank account?

We pay all of our private tenant Housing Benefit (HB) by Direct Credit (BACS). To get these payments you need a bank account. Direct Credit has many advantages such as:

  • it is safer as less vulnerable to postal strike action and theft.
  • HB can still be withdrawn from various places including the Post Office.
  • avoiding costly charges made by cheque encashment companies who charge between 5 and 10% of the value of a cheque.
  • taking advantage of discounts from companies by setting up direct debits to pay your bills.

Easier access to a basic bank account

There is useful information about bank accounts and how to manage one on the Following sites:

Money Advice Service 

Citizens Advice Bureau

Providing proof of identity and residency

If you currently receive Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support, you should be able to provide your documents sent to the you by the Department for Work and Pensions as proof of identity. Not all banks accept this so you must check with the bank.

Contact us

Contact us about benefits