Many families lack current account
Published 08/03/2011 | 09:52
One in every five Irish families does not have access to a bank current account, a survey has found.
Researchers say those households will find it more and more difficult to carry out daily transactions as society moves away from cash to electronic transactions.
A current account is increasingly necessary for paying bills, receiving wages or welfare benefits, transferring money as well as buying everyday goods and services.
The survey found the number of households in Ireland without the basic banking facility was almost three times higher than in other European countries.
Half of those living in local authority housing had no current account while around four out of every 10 in poorer or less educated families were in the same predicament.
Despite promises during the banking bailout that lenders would reach out to these excluded groups, there was little evidence they have done so, according to the researchers at the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
Furthermore, they warn that increases in bank charges will make the situation even worse rather than reduce the problem.
"The move towards a cashless society means that without further efforts to include financially-excluded groups, these households risk becoming increasingly marginalised," the ESRI said.
In the survey, commissioned by Government officials, they also looked at the scale of households struggling to repay mortgages, rent, energy bills and other loan arrangements.
Just over 5% of Irish families fell into the "over-indebted" category, but the proportion was much higher among the less well off.