Bank discriminates against disabled teen

BARCLAY'S Bank today admitted discriminating against an Ipswich teenager with Down's Syndrome after refusing her an account and branding her mentally incompetent.

BARCLAY'S Bank today admitted discriminating against an Ipswich teenager with Down's Syndrome after refusing her an account and branding her mentally incompetent.

Wendy Rusher took her daughter Charlotte to Barclay's Princes Street branch to set up a joint account. However, the pair left empty-handed after they felt Charlotte was insulted and told she could not set up an account in her name.

In a case labelled appalling by the Down's Syndrome Association, the bank has now apologised and offered to allow the 18-year-old an account.

But, Mrs Rusher, of Felixstowe Road, said: “It's sad that discrimination like this is alive and well. They can shove their offer of an account now. It's not so much that they just wouldn't let her have an account, but more the attitude towards Charlotte.

“Staff said the bank had policies and it would not be possible to open a joint account as my daughter was 'mentally incompetent'.

“They offered her an account in my name but I felt my daughter should have the right to access her money if she wants it and have the pleasure of using it in any way she pleases, while having me to lend a hand.”

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Mrs Rusher approached the bank on the advice of the Disabilities Advice Centre and read Barclay's guidelines for disabled customers on its website.

As part of its disability issues unit mission statement the website reads: “The mission of the unit is to change people's views and perceptions around disability and to provide the expert advice and support required in dealing with the challenges faced by disabled people when using banking services.”

Convinced her daughter was being discriminated against, Mrs Rusher wrote to The Evening Star, which intervened.

Alan White, Barclay's spokesman, said: “When our staff were dealing with this application they misinterpreted disability guidelines and did go down the wrong route.

“It is clear from our discussions and the weight of evidence that Charlotte is far from incapable. We have clarified our procedures with staff and they are now knowledgeable on how to take this situation forward.

“We admit we've let the customer down with our service and will be arranging for £100 to be credited into an account in Mrs Rusher's name so she can buy Charlotte a gift.”

Marie Benton, from the Down's Syndrome Association, said: “This case is appalling. Essentially, an adult with learning difficulties has exactly the same right as everybody else and we shouldn't be hearing of cases like this.”

Have you been the victim of discrimination? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

WEBLINK: www.down-syndrome.org.uk

ANYONE can apply to open a bank account but a bank is a commercial business and is not obliged to open an account for anyone.

However, under the Disability Discrimination Act, a bank cannot refuse to open an account just because a person has a disability.

The law states that to have a bank account a person must have contractual capacity - i.e. they must be able to understand the nature of the contract they are entering into.

They must also be able to give their informed consent to any transactions or to give permission for someone else to act on their behalf.

Under the Disability Discrimination Act, a bank has to make reasonable adjustments for someone with a disability.

Source: www.askmencap.info

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