Closed petition Ensure sex workers are not excluded from banking services

The Government should review current laws to ensure that people who work in the sex industry can access banking services.

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They are often refused bank accounts because of the nature of their jobs, even though it is completely legal and they pay tax. Sex workers also struggle with loans, mortgages etc.

I work in the sex industry and have been refused for 15 bank accounts because of the nature of my job even though it is completely legal and I am registered with HMRC. People should not be discriminated against because they work in the sex industry.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

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Government responded

This response was given on 4 March 2024

HM Treasury has designated the largest current account providers to offer basic bank accounts – personal current accounts with no overdraft or fees – to eligible UK residents with no bank account.

Read the response in full

The Government seeks to ensure everyone can access useful financial products and services. As part of this, we recognise that banks and building societies occupy a privileged position in society and are essential to enabling people and businesses to manage their money.

Credit institutions, covering all UK banks and building societies, cannot deny UK consumers access to personal payment accounts based on a range of protected characteristics.

For individuals having difficulty opening a personal bank account, the nine largest personal current account providers in the UK must offer fee-free basic bank accounts to “unbanked” customers. This means everyone can manage their money effectively, securely, and confidently. As of June 2022, there were 7.4 million basic bank accounts.

The Government is also increasing customer protections. The minimum notice providers must give before closing an account will increase from two months to 90 days, so people have time to deal with, or challenge, this decision. Firms will also need to provide a sufficiently detailed and specific explanation to customers, increasing transparency.

The Money Laundering Regulations apply to regulated firms, including banks. These ensure key professionals identify their customers and understand a transaction’s purpose, including the source of funds. These risk-based checks help firms identify and report suspicions of money laundering linked to crimes such as human trafficking and modern slavery.

The availability of lending products, such as mortgages or credit cards, and decisions about offering services to businesses are commercial decisions in which the Government does not intervene. The Government will regulate only where there is a clear case to do so, to avoid increasing costs for providers that could ultimately lead to higher costs for customers.

The mortgage and consumer credit markets are principally overseen by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA’s rules do not prevent lenders from lending to any potential borrower, including self-employed customers, as long as it is affordable, and the borrower’s income can be shown to be sustainable.

If personal or business customers are unhappy with a firm’s handling of their affairs, they may be able to make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), which provides swift and effective dispute resolution with financial services firms. The FOS can direct firms to put things right, including reinstating closed accounts or providing compensation.

HM Treasury