Barclays has announced today (December 8th 2011) that it is to increase the charges levied on basic bank account customers if they attempt to withdraw money they do not have.
The financial services provider's Cash Card account is a no-frills option without a cheque book and overdraft facilities that is designed for savers on low incomes.
Currently, there is a maximum penalty of £8 per day if direct debits or withdrawals go over available funds.
However, as of March 2012, Barclays has said it is extending the one transaction charge to a maximum of three failed payments, meaning the charges could triple to £24 a day.
The bank has also said it is scrapping monthly paper statements in favour of sending out itemised information every three months to further cut costs.
However, account holders will be able to receive text alerts when they are nearing their account limit for free, rather than the £2 a month previously paid.
A spokesperson for Barclays said the measures are necessary.
"We want to ensure this product remains financially sustainable so that we can continue to help those at risk of financial exclusion gain access to banking," they added.
Oliver Morgans of Consumer Focus warned they could damage trust in banks among the most vulnerable customers.
"These changes to basic bank accounts are a backward step by banks which could increase financial exclusion," he said.
This comes after last month's High Pay Commission Cheques With Balances: Why Tackling High Pay Is In The National Interest report found that the top wages at Barclays and Lloyds for executives are now 75 times the national average.
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