Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Increase your savings by 50 per cent?

February 10 2011
According to Grand Central Savings, you can bank on it!

In May 2010, The Pavement bought you the news that Grand Central Savings, the charitable organisation that gives bank accounts to the so-called "unbanked", was to open its second Scottish branch in Greenock following the success of the original Glasgow branch. Now, just into the new year, GCS is pleased to reveal new plans for expansion into Aberdeen, as well as a new reward scheme whereby careful savers are given a bonus of 50 per cent of their savings at the end of the year.

The new scheme allows up to 500 GCS customers to bank up to £10 a month throughout the year, potentially saving £120 annually. GCS will then reward savers with 50 per cent of this figure - up to £60 on top what they have already saved. Schemes such as this are bound to prove invaluable to groups such as the homeless, who often struggle to save because they are unable to open bank accounts without proof of address or ID. Unlike mainstream banks, all you need to open an account with GCS is your National Insurance number (or Home Office Registration number) and an official government letter such as a document from your job centre or benefits agency.

Originally established as part of the Big Issue Foundation Scotland, GCS has been independent since 2008. Since then, its growing client base has come to include anyone who might struggle to access a bank account - benefit claimants, asylum seekers, ex-offenders, immigrant workers and, naturally, the homeless. The growing popularity of this free service is proof of its usefulness in enabling clients to electronically pay in benefits, tax credits and wages and charging no fee for paying in cheques.

The website is informative and user-friendly, if a little out-of-date. Case studies of clients include Robert, a GCS homeless customers, who found that having an account enabled him attend interviews that he was otherwise avoiding because he felt embarrassed at being refused an account with other banks. This proved an important step towards his present employment. Similarly, John, a Big Issue vendor, found GCS gave him the opportunity to save his money, as he was denied access to other banks. Both men agree that access to a bank account is a vital part of getting back on track.

For further details, visit or call into either of the two current branches: 30 Nicolson Street, Greenock, 01475 884380; 15 Carlton Court, Glasgow, 01414182290.