Why bank accounts are crucial for prison leavers
“Through the Prisoner Banking Programme, eligible prison leavers can open a bank account so that they have immediate access to employment, accommodation and welfare payments.”
Why bank accounts are essential for prison leavers
Having a bank account opens up many opportunities – but probably the most significant benefit is that it opens the door to employment. For prison leavers, this means earning an income and the opportunity to make a positive impact on their families and communities. In turn, this results in a positive effect on the economy and society in general.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), prison leavers who are employed within the first ten months of their release are much less likely to reoffend.2 And the MoJ also estimates that around 50,000 people are released from prison each year, many of them in full time work with various levels of skills.
Consequently, this means businesses can benefit from a large range of talent and expertise, plus employers who hire prison leavers have previously reported that they stay with them longer than average – reducing recruitment costs and increasing staff retention.3
Overcoming the identification barrier
In most cases, to open a bank account you need some form of identification – usually a passport, driving licence or utility bill to prove who you are. For prison leavers though, the process can be more complicated as many don’t have the correct documentation and may be out of touch with the family and friends who are able to provide it for them.
As a result, HMPPS along with the firms connected with the Prisoner Banking Programme, all agreed on an alternative way to confirm a prisoner’s identity which sees an authorised prison staff member sign a letter confirming the prisoner’s identity and application. Funding for new identification is also available for serving prisoners with 12 weeks or less left of their sentence and, at the time of writing, 11,000 pieces of identification were purchased during the first financial year of the programme’s existence.
In terms of the application process, each prison leaver is paired with a staff member who will guide them through the process and submit the application directly to us. We’ll then process that application and open a basic bank account for that prisoner.
“According to statistics from the Ministry of Justice, prison leavers who are employed within the first twelve months of their release are up to nine percentage points less likely to reoffend.”
How many bank accounts have been opened through the Banking Programme?
Between January and December 2022, just over 5,600 bank accounts were opened in total through the Prisoner Banking Programme. The Group opened 40% of that total - or around 2,521 accounts. And in 2023, around 3,640 bank accounts have been opened through Lloyds Banking Group.
HMP Ford opened a Halifax Bank account through the Banking Programme for a prisoner who had six months before release. The prisoner had secured work as a scaffolder on Release on Temporary Licence (RoTL), and so he needed a bank account for his salary to be paid in to and manage his everyday banking.
“In 2023, around 3,640 bank accounts were opened through Lloyds Banking Group."
Support from Lloyds Banking Group
The UK Government provides financial support for prison leavers including Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, plus a variety of support from local councils. And the NHS works with the UK Government to improve the wellbeing of people leaving prison too, as well as help tackle some of the health-related drivers of offences that led them into the prison system in the first place. Moreover, prison leavers can also get assistance around financial resilience through the Lloyds Bank Academy, including help with online essentials and effective money management.
Alongside all of this, we know that support from the financial sector can also make a huge difference. A bank account can lead to a better chance of employment, reduce the risk of reoffending, and help prison leavers make a positive impact on their family, friends and society in general. With this in mind, we look forward to continuing our work with New Futures Network and view this collaboration as an important step towards fulfilling our overall ambition of Helping Britain Prosper.
Customer Specialist Support Managing Director
Philip Robinson has over 25 years' experience working in financial services.
During this time, he has amassed a breadth of leadership and experience in Retail banking, including Customer Proposition Development, Commercial Management, Transformation Delivery, Distribution and Strategy.
He currently leads the Customer Specialist Support team, serving and protecting millions of customers by providing them specialist support in a variety of complex and challenging situations.
Prior to his current role, Philip has held various leadership roles across different areas of the Group including Personal Current Accounts, Savings, Payments and Business Banking.
1. NHS Long Term Plan » Health and the justice system (www.longtermplan.nhs.uk)
2. Analysis of the impact of employment on re-offending following release from custody, using Propensity Score Matching (assets.publishing.service.gov.uk)
3. Social Value: Employing prison leavers and ex-offenders. (apmpuk.co.uk)
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