Tuesday 11 December 2018 5:49 pm

Beat your demons: Barclays lets account holders block their worst spending habits

Barclays has become the first high street bank to allow customers to “turn off” certain types of spending in a bid to give those with addiction better control over their money.

Customers can now block payments to retailers including gambling websites, betting shops and pubs using a button in the bank's mobile app.

Barclays developed the new tool with vulnerable customers in mind, but hopes the feature will help all customers take greater control over their finances.

Customers will also be able to block their spending in supermarkets, restaurants, petrol stations, and on premium rate websites and phone lines.

Any attempted payments that users have “turned off” will be automatically declined.

Catherine McGrath, managing director at Barclays, said: “We are always looking for new ways to support our customers and make it easier for them to manage their finances.

“This new control feature is the latest new service that we have introduced in the Barclays mobile banking app that aims to give all of our customers a better way to manage their money in a simple, secure and effective way.”

The feature is now available to Barclays debit card users, with plans for it to be rolled out to credit card holders in the near future. It has been introduced following pressure from money experts and charities.

Martin Lewis, founder and chair of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said: “Mental health and debt is a marriage made in hell. Many with mental health issues struggle to control their spending – whether through gambling, shopping or premium phone lines.

“I want to applaud Barclays for being the first major bank to sit up, take note and act. I believe it will make a real difference to people’s lives and I hope the other banks will follow suit.”

While Barclays is the first high street bank to introduce the initiative, similar tools have previously been offered by digital-only banks such as Starling and Monzo.

Earlier this year, Barclays also enabled its debit card holders to set a daily cash withdrawal limit and turn off the ability to make purchases online and over the phone.