independent

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Banks taking away people's dignity

DEBORAH COLEMAN

Published 24/10/2012 | 11:14

Ithink that the banks have a bare faced cheek restricting how much families in mortgage arrears can spend in certain areas. It turns out that hard pressed homeowners in negative equity who are effectively trapped in a spiral of debt are being further humiliated by limits set by their banks on how and what they can spend, for instance on health insurance (as if us mere mortals have any control over the ridiculous rates charged by providers!), teenagers and phone costs.

Teenagers -as in their children. It appears they have been downgraded to a 'category' just like phone credit.

What an insult. It must be observed that in order for banks to be facilitated in imposing such restrictions the mortgage holder must be engaging with them and making an effort to confront their debt.

Is this how they are repaid? Embarrassed and patronised by a bank official who rolls out the same response to every customer and says that's just the way it is.

It is difficult enough for a person to face their bank, who are very much to blame for facilitating ridiculous mortgages in the first place, without being put on an allowance.

I heard urban myths about banks chastising customers for shopping in Tesco rather than the cheaper alternatives such as Lidl and Aldi but now I'm starting to think there might be some truth in it.

Put it this way, if one is in arrears and trapped by negative equity then they are hardly going to be spending like there's no tomorrow anyway.

It is about making a choice about what the money is available is spent on because it is almost a given that some bills on top of the mortgage won't be paid either.

There is a severe difference between banks offering valuable and helpful financial advice and taking away a person's right to spend how they see fit for their personal household.

Looking at figures on a computer screen or on a bank statement simply cannot offer the full story.

The problem is, that the banks are still looking at people, real people as just another number.

They have a responsibility to serve their customers, the people who own them after all. I'm far from an economist but putting the squeeze on people in such a manner won't fix our financial woes any more quickly but will certainly have a detrimental impact on the emotional wellbeing of society as a whole.

People don't deserve to have their dignity eroded along with everything else.

There are some people in this country whose debt will most likely pass to the next generation and I'm sure they are berating themselves enough without the banks adding to their stress.

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