Five questions answered on Barclays’ plan to review its overdraft fees and charges

The breakdown.

Barclays bank has announced that it plans to conduct an unprecedented review of its overdraft fees and charges faced by 12 million of its current account customers. We answer five questions on the planned review.

What particular aspects will Barclays be looking at?

A key part of this new campaign will look at Barclays’ overdraft pricing.

The bank is already trialling a text alert service which alerts tens of thousands of customer when they are about to go into the red.

This service alone has cost the bank £1.5m in lost fees and is likely to be extended.

Why is Barclays conducting this review?

It is thought to be an attempt to improve its reputation after a being handed out a series of fines.

The bank has recently admitted it is likely to suffer a £50m fine for its Qatari bailout.

It was revealed recently that the bank failed to declare it paid £322 million to the Qataris for bailing the bank out in 2008.

It also said that it may have to compensate 300,000 personal loan customers who were given the wrong paperwork for five years. 

The bank also came last in an ethical poll by campaigners Move Your Money, scoring just four out of 100 for its honesty and service.

How will the bank work out its new policy?

Earlier this month the bank launched a ‘Your Bank’ initiative asking customers to give honest feedback.

So far 250,000 people have got in touch.

A new overdraft policy will be worked out over the next 90 to 120 days.

How much does the bank currently charge its customers who go overdrawn?

It charges £88 for savers that persistently fall into an unauthorised overdraft during the month. However, the more common charge is £22 which usually occurs when a payment takes a customer into their unauthorized overdraft and another subsequent payment is made.

What has the Barclay’s Chief Executive said?

Speaking to The Telegraph, Ashok Vaswani, Barclays' retail and business banking chief executive said: "I'm going through the business with a fine toothcomb. We want to de-risk the business and clean up any sins of the past."

"The biggest one for me is overdrafts. I'm going to do a full grass roots review of our overdraft proposition. We know that this has been a problem which is why we have already launched the text alert systems in real time.

"I firmly believe that once a customer has been given the opportunity to save £22 they will say to themselves: "This bank is looking out for me".

Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

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Leader: Trump's dangerous nation

From North Korea to Virginia, the US increasingly resembles a rogue state.

When Donald Trump was elected as US president, some optimistically suggested that the White House would have a civilising effect on the erratic tycoon. Under the influence of his more experienced colleagues, they argued, he would gradually absorb the norms of international diplomacy.

After seven months, these hopes have been exposed as delusional. On 8 August, he responded to North Korea’s increasing nuclear capabilities by threatening “fire and fury like the world has never seen”. Three days later, he casually floated possible military action against Venezuela. Finally, on 12 August, he responded to a white supremacist rally in Virginia by condemning violence on “many sides” (only criticising the far right specifically after two days of outrage).

Even by Mr Trump’s low standards, it was an embarrassing week. Rather than normalising the president, elected office has merely inflated his self-regard. The consequences for the US and the world could be momentous.

North Korea’s reported acquisition of a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on an intercontinental missile (and potentially reach the US) demanded a serious response. Mr Trump’s apocalyptic rhetoric was not it. His off-the-cuff remarks implied that the US could launch a pre-emptive strike against North Korea, leading various officials to “clarify” the US position. Kim Jong-un’s regime is rational enough to avoid a pre-emptive strike that would invite a devastating retaliation. However, there remains a risk that it misreads Mr Trump’s intentions and rushes to action.

Although the US should uphold the principle of nuclear deterrence, it must also, in good faith, pursue a diplomatic solution. The week before Mr Trump’s remarks, the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, rightly ruled out “regime change” and held out the possibility of “a dialogue”.

The North Korean regime is typically depicted as crazed, but its pursuit of nuclear weapons rests on rational foundations. The project is designed to guarantee its survival and to strengthen its bargaining hand. As such, it must be given incentives to pursue a different path.

Mr Trump’s bellicose language overshadowed the successful agreement of new UN sanctions against North Korea (targeting a third of its $3bn exports). Should these prove insufficient, the US should resume the six-party talks of the mid-2000s and even consider direct negotiations.

A failure of diplomacy could be fatal. In his recent book Destined for War, the Harvard historian Graham Allison warns that the US and China could fall prey to “Thucydides’s trap”. According to this rule, dating from the clash between Athens and Sparta, war typically results when a dominant power is challenged by an ascendent rival. North Korea, Mr Bew writes, could provide the spark for a new “great power conflict” between the US and China.

Nuclear standoffs require immense patience, resourcefulness and tact – all qualities in which Mr Trump is lacking. Though the thought likely never passed his mind, his threats to North Korea and Venezuela provide those countries with a new justification for internal repression.

Under Mr Trump’s leadership, the US is becoming an ever more fraught, polarised nation. It was no accident that the violent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, culminating in the death of the 32-year-old Heather Heyer, took place under his presidency. Mr Trump’s victory empowered every racist, misogynist and bigot in the land. It was doubtless this intimate connection that prevented him from immediately condemning the white supremacists. To denounce them is, in effect, to denounce himself.

The US hardly has an unblemished history. It has been guilty of reckless, immoral interventions in Vietnam, Latin America and Iraq. But never has it been led by a man so heedless of international and domestic norms. Those Republicans who enabled Mr Trump’s rise and preserve him in office must do so no longer. There is a heightened responsibility, too, on the US’s allies to challenge, rather than to indulge, the president. The Brexiteers have allowed dreams of a future US-UK trade deal to impair their morality.

Under Mr Trump, the US increasingly resembles a breed it once denounced: a rogue state. His former rival Hillary Clinton’s past warning that “a man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons” now appears alarmingly prescient.

This article first appeared in the 17 August 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump goes nuclear