The Supported Bank Account

Summary

The “Supported Bank Account” (“Betreutes Konto”) is a service provided by a mainstream debt counselling service in the city of Vienna in cooperation with some selected banks. The supported account helps the clients with complying to their payment obligations. Through this support service the eviction of many people could already be prevented.

Issue addressed

Financial management, prevention of homelessness, ensurance of minimum living payments.

Background information

This service is targeted mainly at people in risk of homelessness. However, also people with intellectual disabilities have used it successfully.

Description of practice

The “Supported Bank Account” (“Betreutes Konto”) is a service provided by a mainstream debt counselling service in the city of Vienna in cooperation with some selected banks. Target groups are persons:

  • who are under guardianship and
  • who have difficulties to recognise and follow payment priorities,  and
  • who are therefore in risk of homelessness.

A supported account is NOT to help people who do not get an account due to common banking practice to get an account . For a supported account, it is irrelevant whether someone already has an account or needs to get an account or has a bank debt.

The procedure is straightforward. If someone is living in Vienna and needs assistance in keeping to payment priorities, they or their legal guardian can complete the registration form for a supported account online. At a personal meeting the conditions are clarified and then the documents for the application for an account at one of the cooperating banks are compiled and forwarded to the appropriate bank. At this meeting, a personal account plan is created, including the revenues such as wage/salary, disability benefits, family allowance, minimum protection etc., as well as the planned expenditures such as rent, electricity/gas or heating.

The supported account helps the clients with complying to their payment obligations. A main feature are separate bank accounts for revenues and expenditures.

  • Important payments, such as rent and energy, are automatically debited from the revenue account.
  • Clients and supporters receive alerts via Email or SMS, e.g. in the case of insufficient funds.
  • Supporters must become active only in case of an alert – thus the system allows for more independence and less overall effort of the supporter.

The supported account is available for people who have already (once or several times) been evicted or are in grave danger of being evicted and have a supporting structure. The supported account could prove since its inception that it can achieve very good effects with comparatively very low administrative expenses. For many of the people who use a supported account, an eviction could be prevented and the living space could be secured for a long term.

This was made possible by the absolute focus on the minimum living payments the central element of the supported account. The account management by the team of debt advice is provided to the account holders with no cost.

Analysis

This is an excellent example of how a mainstream organised debt counselling service has proven to be useful also for supporting the independent living of people with intellectual disabilities. The split into two bank accounts make it possible to limit access to the account that secures revenues and minimal living payments. The other expense account can be at the control of the user.

It is noteworthy that this model could be implemented without any specific new legislation. It was only necessary to find some banks as cooperation partners and have knowledgeable experts at the mainstream debt counselling service.

More information

http://www.schuldnerberatung-wien.at/kontoservice/

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