Disability support service finally opens after banking troubles

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​A disability support service will finally open in Dumfries & Galloway after a nine month setback by Clydesdale Bank

25th August 2017 by Georgina Harris 1 Comment

A new independent support service for social care users in Dumfries & Galloway is set to reopen in September after a nine month delay.

iConnect Dumfries, part of the Scottish Personal Assistant Employers Network (SPAEN) charity group, will open on the first day of September to offer advice and support to people with disabilities, long-term illness and health conditions.

Its aim is to help people live more full and active lives within their local community.

The service was due to open earlier this year but was delayed as a result of internal issues within Clydesdale Bank.

SPAEN chief executive officer Colin Millar stated: “In January Clydesdale Bank changed how it operated accounts we utilise on behalf of direct payment recipients. The change was hugely disruptive and came completely out of the blue.

"We had worked for a number of months preparing for transferring banking services to Clydesdale and initially they were very supportive and helpful.

“Then, without warning, the bank stopped opening these accounts and even blocked payments from the accounts which led to delays in the people we support being able to access direct payments; delays in care staff being paid and some care staff even resigning as a result of the financial hardship caused by the bank's delays.

"We tried to get clarification from the bank around the reasons for these changes and I have even written to their chief executive officer on a number of occasions, making representation on behalf of the disabled people affected, but they just did not seem to care.”

According to Millar the changes made by Clydesdale have had a negative impact on the charity: "We have lost tens of thousands of pounds as a result of this banking catastrophe. Between staff having to work overtime, lost contracts and the reputational damage caused by the bank's actions it has been a living nightmare for us and I can only imagine how difficult the bank's actions made life for the people we were supposed to be supporting.”

Janie Ryan, SPAEN regional director for Central & South Scotland, commented: “We had people phoning us several times a day, every day of the week, distressed and upset that their salaries weren't able to be paid, that they were incurring banking charges and default notices on their personal accounts and, in the most severe instances, having eviction notices served in them.”

Millar added: “The people of Dumfries & Galloway deserve the best quality service we can offer and we are determined to get back on track and rebuild our relationship with the community and the local authority despite the intransigence of a big corporate body."

A Clydesdale Bank spokesperson said: "We have been working closely with our customer Indigo Red, SPAEN's payroll partner and our client, to resolve a number of complex issues relating to the charity's banking needs and are pleased to be continuing to provide our services and support. SPAEN's complaint has been fully investigated and we believe a fair outcome has been reached."

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25th August 2017 by Colin Millar

Clydesdale Bank investigate themselves and find in their own favour. Lacks any kind of integrity in my opinion. Not even an apology for the distress their actions caused to the people affected.....