30th March 2016

UK banks and buildings societies publish new code to offer greater support to bereaved families

The UK’s biggest high street banks and building societies have drawn up a new code of practice to offer greater help and support for bereaved families, the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) has announced.

The Bereavement Principles have been developed for personal banking customers, to further assist families and relieve stress around alerting financial organisations to the death of a loved one by cutting bureaucracy and providing an even more sensitive service.

The new code of six principles includes a commitment from banks and building societies to:

  • Allow necessary payments from the deceased’s accounts to cover any funeral bill, probate fees, or inheritance tax;
  • Improve empathy skills and knowledge training for staff; and
  • One-stop notification across products and within UK customer brands.

The one-stop notification system would enable a bank to notify its relevant brands about specific accounts and products under the deceased’s names, as requested by the notifier.

The principles also include an ongoing feasibility study for a “Tell us Once” style scheme which would allow members of the public to notify securely a number of retail banks and building societies of the death of an account holder with one single notification.

Banks and building societies already have processes for helping those with bereavement cases but personal banking customers will now be able to expect the same consistent standards of service when the new code is put into practice by the end of 2016.

The principles have been developed and voluntarily agreed by the BBA Bereavement Working Group, comprised of  Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide Building Society, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander and the Building Societies Association, and will cover UK brands under those groups. The principles have also been backed by leading consumer groups and bereavement specialists.

BBA Bereavement Working Group Chair Mandy Griffin from Nationwide Building Society, said:

“The new Bereavement Principles will give greater support to families at the most distressing time and make the process of notifying financial organisations of the death of a loved one much easier. Our aim is to make sure we deal sensitively with bereaved families and help them deal with the deceased financial affairs as quickly as possible.

“Through the bereavement working group, banks and building societies will continue to work together to ensure the principles become a reality”

Anthony Browne, CEO of the BBA, said:

“Following the death of a friend or family member, the last thing anyone wants to deal with is closing and settling bank accounts, but the new Bereavement Principles will help to further reduce stress and offer a more sensitive service to customers.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • The full Bereavement Principles agreed by the banks and building societies, via the BBA bereavement working group are (see full breakdown and detail at Annex A):
    • Our team will treat you with compassion and respect when you seek our help and support following bereavement.
    • We will provide you with access to practical, jargon-free information and help via our branches, website and telephone. We’ll also tell you about other external sources of help available to you.
    • When you get in touch to tell us about your bereavement we will respond rapidly and will suppress marketing and start to take the necessary action straight away.
    • We will make sure that once you’ve been in touch, we will notify all relevant teams in our organisation and provide you with a point of contact.
    • We will provide support to meet your individual needs throughout the process and will work with you to resolve everything as quickly and simply as possible keeping you informed.
    • We will plan carefully to make sure we can consistently provide the best possible service for those who are bereaved.
  • The BBA bereavement working group is chaired by Nationwide Building Society and includes representatives from across the banking industry. It was set up to improve the service offered by the banking industry to bereaved people and to share current best practice.
  • The BBA bereavement working group is consulting with the Department of Work & Pensions to learn from its “Tell us Once” scheme, and the Government department’s own successful bereavement service model.
  • The working group is consulting with the BBA consumer panel which has endorsed the principles – made up of representatives from Citizens Advice, Step Change, Money Advice Scotland, Northern Ireland Consumer Council, Age UK, Money Advice Service and Money Advice Trust – as well as Cruse Bereavement Care and other bereavement specialists.
  • Banks would not automatically instigate a general search across all brands, products and accounts based on the deceased individual’s name; whey would only notify and search based on the information provided by the notifier.
  • All firms supporting the Bereavement Principles and one-stop notification across UK customer brands are:
Royal Bank of Scotland
Natwest
Ulster Bank
Coutts
HSBC
first direct
Barclays
Barclaycard
M&S Bank
Lloyds Banking Group
Lloyds
Halifax
Bank of Scotland
Scottish Widows
Clerical Medical
C&G
Santander
Santander UK
Santander UK
Carter Allen
Santander Private Banking
Cahoot
Santander for Intermediaries
Santander Business Banking
Santander Select
Santander shareholder services
Santander Universities
Nationwide Building Society
The Mortgage Works
BSA

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