Treasury Committee press notice no. 35

Session 2005-06, 27 April 2006

High Street banks to be questioned on provision of basic bank accounts

Financial Inclusion: further evidence sessions

The Treasury Committee will hold the final series of evidence sessions in connection with its inquiry into Financial Inclusion.

Background information

The five largest high street banks will be questioned by the Treasury Committee on their record of providing basic bank accounts to the financially excluded. This is part of a comprehensive programme of evidence in the concluding sessions of the Committee's inquiry into financial inclusion.

The Committee has received evidence that some banks are failing to promote basic bank accounts and in some cases actively dissuading people from attempting to open a bank account. Consumers are reported to have encountered problems with providing the necessary ID documentation and faced excessively long delays in opening bank accounts, some of which were needed for the payment of benefit. Banks will also be questioned on the level of default charges on basic bank accounts.

The Committee will hear from Government ministers in the Treasury, DTI and the DWP and from the Financial Inclusion Task Force on the actions the government is taking to promote financial inclusion and the administration of the £120 million financial inclusion fund. In particular, the Committee will examine how the government will encourage the provision of affordable credit and the development of credit unions, CDFIs and other third sector lenders. The Committee will also examine the government's proposed scheme to allow lenders to apply to deduct debt repayments directly from benefits.

Given the broad reach of the Post Office network, the Committee will question the Post Office on its role in promoting financial inclusion and the provision of banking services through Post Office branches. The Government has announced that they will be ending funding for the Post Office Card Account from 2010. The Committee will examine the context of this decision and future arrangements for the 4 million people who use the POCA on a regular basis.

The FSA will be questioned on its remit for promoting financial inclusion, the progress it has made in simplifying bureaucratic anti money-laundering regulations and how it can promote access to generic financial advice. The Committee will also examine the progress of the FSA's national strategy for financial capability.

Details of the hearings are set out below:

Tuesday 9 May 2006:

At 10.00 am: Brian Pomeroy, Chairman, Financial Inclusion Task Force

At 11.00 am: Adam Crozier, Chief Executive, Royal Mail Group, Alan Cook, Managing Director and Graham Halliday, Director of Banking and Financial Services, Post Office Ltd

Tuesday 16 May 2006:

At 10.00 am: John Tiner, Chief Executive, Clive Briault, Managing Director, Retail Markets and Vernon Everitt, Director, Retail Themes Division, FSA

Thursday 18 May 2006:

At 10.00 am: Dyfrig John, Chief Executive Officer, HSBC, Garry Hoffman, Chairman UK Banking and Barclaycard, Barclays, James Crosby, Chief Executive, HBOS, Michael Fairey, Deputy Group Chief Executive, Lloyds and Sir Fred Goodwin, Chief Executive, RBS

Monday 22 May 2006:

At 4.00 pm: James Plaskitt MP, Parliamentary Undersecretary, Department for Work and Pensions

At 4.30 pm: Gerry Sutcliffe MP, Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs, Department of Trade and Industry

At 5.00 pm: Ivan Lewis MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, HM Treasury

These meetings will be held in Portcullis House. Those wishing to attend the meetings should check the venue by contacting the House of Commons Public Information Office on 020 7219 4272 on the day before the hearing.


1. The Committee announced a major inquiry into Financial Inclusion on 15 November 2005. To date the Committee has taken oral evidence from Which?, CAB, NCC, ABCU and the CDFA among others. This final series of evidence sessions will focus on access to banking services and affordable credit; the role of the Government, the Financial Services Authority and other bodies and organisations in promoting financial inclusion and the benefits of financial inclusion; and the extent to which financial inclusion measures can contribute to combating poverty and reducing barriers to employment.

2. Committee Membership is as follows: Rt Hon John McFall (Chairman), Mr Colin Breed, Jim Cousins, Angela Eagle, Mr Michael Fallon (Chairman, Sub-Committee), Mr David Gauke, Ms Sally Keeble, Mr Andrew Love, Kerry McCarthy, Mr George Mudie, Mr Brooks Newmark, John Thurso, Mr Mark Todd, Peter Viggers.

3. Press Notice No. 35

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