WIRRAL Council plans for a high street bank that aims to help tackle 'financial exclusion' will be considered for approval by cabinet later this month.

Councillors will be asked to agree initial investment for the new community bank when it meets a week on Monday September 30.

Known as 'community' or 'co-operative' banks they will serve communities that are struggling as the main high street banks close branches.

The aim will also be to help Wirral's many small and medium sized businesses who need to access credit while at the same time bringing banks back to the borough’s high streets and placing cash machines where people most need them – at a time when free-to-use cash machines are being removed from the least affluent areas.

The bank is being set up in partnership between Wirral, Preston and Liverpool and will operate across the north west of England.

Cabinet member for finance and resources, Cllr Janette Williamson, said: "We will step in to provide the service the high street banks are failing to make widely enough available as they focus on their most valuable customers and shut branches where many of our residents actually need them most.

"There is no doubt that it 'costs more to be poor' and working with other councils we are determined to do our bit to help those who need it most.

“We're really pleased to see other councils such as Preston and Liverpool joining us in setting this up."

In March, Wirral Council agreed to £5 million capital funding towards the community bank between 2019 and 2024.

Once operational the bank would charge a small monthly fee with no additional "hidden" charges such as for bank letters or overdraft penalties.

The current account product would also offer 'jam-jar accounting' so money is ring-fenced and separated as it comes in dividing money into separate pots for different purposes to help people ensure they can pay rent and bills.

It is estimated that there are almost 6,000 households in Wirral without a bank account who face paying a "poverty premium" because they cannot access lower prices, for example for energy and utilities through direct debits rather than expensive pre-payment meters.

Cllr Williamson added: "Traditional banks assess risk and profitability together, which often excludes particular groups of customers and businesses. Our customers are not likely to be high risk, but not ‘profitable’ enough for traditional banks.

"Excluding those people is bad for them and bad for our community, as it can lead to financial deprivation, and takes money out of our local economy.

"The wider implication for having a community bank is retaining and improving community wealth and our local economy, which traditional banks do not care enough about.”

Each main bank branch will have a 'traditional' bank manager, expected to know their customers and to make lending decisions accordingly.

The bank would be overseen by a board of directors who will then appoint a manager and staff , with the council acting as investor.