Mencap up in arms over Halifax share deals

Mencap threatens to pull out of Halifax Charity Visa scheme over bank’s windfall discrimination.

Mencap is threatening to pull out of the Halifax Visa Charity Card scheme in protest over the bank’s refusal to compensate customers with learning disabilities who have been denied windfall shares. The move will focus attention on the mushrooming area of corporate charity deals.

The charity has finally decided to take drastic action after an 18-month dispute with the Halifax following its refusal to compensate people who missed out on thousands of pounds of free shares.

Mencap will lose 250,000 a year if it pulls out of the scheme, which was first launched in 1988.

When people with learning disabilities go into residential care, a senior worker at the home manages a central account containing a number of residents’ savings, naming each resident on the account.

When the Halifax floated in May, most account holders received windfall payments of up to 2,000, yet hundreds of named savers with learning disabilities were denied the windfall.

Mencap, along with the National Disability Council, has since been privately campaigning to persuade the Halifax that penalised customers are entitled to compensation of a sum equal to that of other UK savers. The Woolwich and the Alliance & Leicester have already begun talks with the NDC to settle compensation claims.

Mencap chief executive Fred Heddell says: “We have had a productive relationship with the Halifax but we are at the end of our tether.”

A spokeswoman for the Halifax says the bank will not change its position as “we remain convinced that our scheme does not discriminate against any particular group”.

She adds that when Cheshire County Council asked Cherie Booth QC to investigate the right to legal challenge, she found that people with learning difficulties would not have the grounds to proceed with legal action.

Mencap has received 2m to date from its ten-year relationship with the bank.

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