EXCLUSIVE: Woman, 94, stages protest outside Wickford bank after staff blocked access to her money for seven months

By Charles Thomson in Local People

A 94-YEAR-OLD woman has overturned a bank’s decision to block her access to her account after staging a public demo in Wickford.

Kathleen Balding, from Crays Hill, protested outside Santander in Wickford High Street last Thursday, February 9, after she was left unable to access her current account for seven months.

Mrs Balding’s daughter Jeanette was the cosignatory on her bank account, but died from cancer last May at age 74.

Since then, efforts to add her grandson John Day – the chairman of Basildon’s Age Matters group – to the account as the new cosignatory had been repeatedly thwarted by the bank.

Santander bosses insisted Mrs Balding had insufficient ID, leaving her unable to access her pension.

Mr Day said relatives had paid bills totalling £7,000 since Mrs Balding had been locked out of the account.

Mr Day explained: “She is 94 now so she doesn’t have a valid passport or driving licence. I took her in with a telephone bill and an invalid badge, which is issued by the local authority and has to be co-signed by a doctor.

“I am fully aware that there are some unscrupulous people in the world, but they know my mother has died, they can look me up and see what I do and they should really have used a little bit of savvy.”

Mr Day said he had gone public with his complaint due to his position at Age Matters, based at the George Hurd Centre, saying he feared other OAPs could face similar problems.

Santander said there had initially been concerns over whether Mrs Balding understood the change which Mr Day was proposing to the account, but Mr Day said the confusion was caused by his grandmother’s deafness, which means she relies on lip-reading.

The bank has now apologised for the mix-up, saying: “We do accept various forms of ID other than a valid passport or driving licence, including a bus pass or a letter from the DWP, as well as considering the other options available – and this should have been communicated to Mr Day.

“We have apologised to Mr Day and his grandmother for the delay and are looking into putting Mr Day onto the account as a priority.

“We will review the learnings from this case to ensure they are incorporated into our plans to consistently improve our services to customers, and especially those who are elderly or vulnerable.”

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