The Co-op Bank Launches Pioneering Customer Debt Support Programme With Citizens Advice Manchester

2 November 2016

3 min read

The Co-operative Bank has today (2, November 2016) linked up with Citizens Advice Manchester (CAM) to launch a pioneering referral programme for customers who find themselves in financial difficulty.

The Bank has provided funding for a dedicated resource at Citizens Advice Manchester, who will work with particularly vulnerable customers. Uniquely, this resource will support customers in financial difficulty, looking at their overall financial circumstances, and not just the accounts they hold with the Bank. This is the first time this type of activity has been done this way in the UK.

Heather Lauder, Distribution Director, at The Co-operative Bank, said: “The Bank is delighted to be working with Citizens Advice Manchester in launching this new initiative to help support customers in financial difficulty. As the only high street bank with a customer-led Ethical Policy, it is important that we deal with customers who are experiencing financial problems in a sensitive and understanding way.

“We recognise that financial difficulty can come in many forms, and each customer’s circumstances are unique to them. By referring customers to CAM for help and advice, it allows customers to get independent help which looks at the customers overall positon and allows them to tackle their debt in a more holistic way.”

Andy Brown, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Manchester, said: “We are really excited to launch this new approach of tackling financial difficulties experienced by customers of The Co-operative Bank. Working in close partnership with the Bank we see this as an opportunity to reach more people in debt, prevent their problems from escalating and supporting them and their families to a position of financial security.”

Some examples of how the Bank has been able to help vulnerable customers through referral to Citizens Advice Manchester:

Case Study 1: The Bank has supported a customer, who was in financial difficulty as a result of lung cancer and ongoing related health conditions but had agreed a plan to reduce her overdraft. Unfortunately her benefit payment hadn’t been processed correctly resulting in the customer having no money, and she struggled to contact the Department of Work & Pensions to resolve the matter and when she did was unable to articulate her issue due to breathing difficulties. The Bank referred the customer to CAM who were able contact DWP on the customer’s behalf and resolve the benefits payment issue quickly.

Case Study 2: A customer had been out of work for several months due to ongoing mental health problems and had seen her monthly income reduced considerably as a result. The customer’s financial situation was also becoming one of the drivers for her depression.

The Bank referred the customer to CAM to conduct a benefit review to ensure that the customer was receiving her full entitlement. CAM identified a pension fund of £30k which the customer was eligible to access. They helped her with information allowing her to make an informed decision to release a percentage of her pension early which was used to clear debts with the Bank and several other creditors. The customer is now debt free and can fully focus on her own wellbeing now one of the key drivers has been removed.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

About the Co-operative Bank

the Co-operative Bank plc provide a full range of banking products and services to almost 5 million retail and SME (Small and Medium Sizes Enterprises) customers. The Bank is fully committed to values and ethics in line with the principles of the co-operative movement.

For further information please contact

Nicki Parry, Head of Media Relations

The Co-operative Bank Press Office

Tel: 07734 002 983

Email: nicki.parry@co-operativebank.co.uk

Twitter: @CooperativeBank

Contact

Corporate

Lesley McPherson, Director of Communications

Mobile:+44 (0) 7725 903 270

Email Lesley McPherson

Head of Media Relations

Nicki Parry

Mobile: 07734 002 983

Email Nicki Parry

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