A Questions & Answers only item. The July Cabinet paper has been included for information purposes.
The Director for Finance provided members with a brief overview of the current situation. A report on the Community Bank had been presented to Cabinet in July (this paper was included in the Commissions meeting papers for information purposes). The Director made the following key points:
The Chair said that he was very interested in this and hoped it would be effective in reducing the number of people who aren’t able to open bank accounts. He said that lots of people in Bristol were being a refused banks account which in return was costing them a lot of money. He said he understood there were other banking models but this cross regional model looked promising.
A Member said they thought this sounded exciting and it seemed to have a lot of potential. She did however comment on the make-up of Avon Mutual's Board in the report and the apparent lack of diversity as there only appeared to be one woman listed. She highlighted the importance of diversity but also said people often trust people they can relate too. The Director of Finance thanks her for the comment and said it was timely as recruitment was about to take place.
A Member said that he had some further questions about the business model but he recognised they shouldn’t really be directed towards the Director of BCC Finance and so asked who they should be sent to. The Director asked the Member to send her his questions in an email as this was related to due diligence. ACTION: further questions about the business model to be forwarded to the Director of Finance
A Member said he thought it was correct that BCC lead on this in the South West and that the social value principles in investment were correct. The Director of Finance said she would welcome a wider session to further discuss the social value aspects of the bank.
The Chair asked all the Commission Members present if they agreed to support this investment. All the Members present said yes they did. The Chair asked that this agreement in principle be include in the minutes.
One Member highlighted that some religions prohibit gaining interest on their finances. It was asked if this was known and if the bank would be providing sharia compliant loans. The Director of Finance said she didn’t know but would find out and report back: ACTION: The Director of Finance agreed to find out whether the bank would offer religious compliant financing and report back.
A Member said he’d like to understand more about the bank not refusing people accounts and which people were being referred to i.e. would the bank offer accounts to people who had previously been refused due to bankruptcy? The Chair responded that as he understood it, people with poor credit ratings are often refused bank accounts but a lot of those people will be able to have one of these accounts. The Director of Finance said there would be a ‘lower threshold’ put in place. It was clarified that this was about enabling more people to have current accounts and wasn’t about getting people into debt. It was more about the principle of ‘inclusion’. Members said they would like more clarification about this point. ACTION: further information to be provided to Members about the ‘lower threshold’ for applicants.
A Member asked about the relationship between the figure of 12,000 individuals who don’t have a bank account and people who don’t have a permanent address. Were these likely to be many of the same people? The Director said she would need to report back this. ACTION: The Director of Finance to feedback to Members about whether there is a correlation between the figure of 12,000 individuals who don’t have a bank account and people who don’t have a permanent address.