"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."

Philip Robinson
Customer Specialist Support Managing Director
12 February 2024
5 min read

For prison leavers, the transition from the prison system back into the community can be difficult to navigate. Many will face a variety of challenges, including poor mental and physical health, challenging employment prospects and difficulty building and repairing relationships.1

Adapting to life after a period of time in prison can be tough on a practical level too, because without secure benefits or employment, finding somewhere to live can be extremely difficult. Having a bank account can make all the difference, yet many leave prison without even a basic bank account to store and save their money. 

That’s why Lloyds Banking Group partners with New Futures Network – the specialist employment team in His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS). The team helps to increase the number of prison leavers securing employment, including by supporting them in opening a bank account through managing the Prisoner Banking Programme.

What is the Prisoner Banking Programme?

The Prisoner Banking Programme allows prisoners who need a bank account upon release to open one while they are still in custody. The scheme provides a basic bank account and to be eligible sentenced prisoners must have no more than twelve months and no less than six weeks left until their release date.

Prisons that join the programme are partnered with one of seven banking providers, including Lloyds Banking Group, meaning they can open a Halifax account if they reside in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, or a Bank of Scotland account in Scotland. The aim is to ensure that eligible prison leavers can open a bank account without barriers, and have access to employment, accommodation and welfare payments immediately upon release. 

We’ve supported the scheme for more than 12 years and, at the beginning of 2023, Halifax was chosen as the first bank to operate in Northern Ireland via Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS). This resulted in the extension of the scheme to three new prisons: Hydebank Wood College, HMP Maghaberry and HMP Magilligan.

“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.

Philip Robinson
About the author Philip Robinson

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.

Follow Philip on LinkedIn.

Philip's background Read less

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