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Lords Committee to re-examine financial exclusion – what has changed since 2017?

Friday 12 March 2021

The House of Lords Liaison Committee will next week hold evidence sessions following up the 2017 report from the Financial Exclusion Committee.

The Liaison Committee will be joined by Baroness Tyler, who chaired the Financial Exclusion Committee, and other members of that Committee to quiz Treasury and Department for Work and Pensions Ministers, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Martin Lewis and others on the progress made to tackle financial exclusion since its original report.

The 2017 report called on the Government, FCA and banks to do more to tackle the ‘vicious circle’ of debt and overcharging, highlighting the scandal of the poverty premium, where the poor are charged more for essential utilities and services. The report also pointed out that the less well-off are often excluded from mainstream financial services leaving them to resort to expensive and substandard alternatives.

The original report found that in 2017 more than 1.7m people in the UK did not have a bank account and 40% of the working age population had less than £100 in savings.

Since that report was published we have seen the damaging economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and evidence of increasing activities by loan sharks as well as new unregulated ‘buy now, pay later’ products offering credit at the time of purchase for online sales. The Committee will ask the witnesses about these developments.

The sessions will also cover a key recommendation in the original report that has not been implemented, that the FCA should be instructed to enforce a ‘duty of care’ on banks toward customers to ensure they are not ripped off.

Recent studies on financial exclusion and effect of the pandemic suggest that:

  • Due to the pandemic the poorest fifth of households saw an average of £170 a month decline in their bank balances between March-September 2020.
  • Accountants PwC found that a total of 1,400 banks or building societies have closed in the last five years with 235 closing permanently in the first half of 2020. This risks worsening financial exclusion for people still dependent on physical bank services.

The evidence sessions will start at 2:10pm on Tuesday 16 March. They will be available to follow live and on demand on Parliament TV.

The full witness details are:

2:10pm

  • Martin Lewis, Chair, Money and Mental Health Trust
  • Martin Kearsley, Banking Director, Post-office
  • Natalie Ceeney, Chair, Innovate Finance & former Chair of the access to cash review 2019

3:00pm

  • Sheldon Mills, Executive Director for Consumers and Competition, FCA
  • Nisha Arora, Director of Consumer and Retail Policy, FCA

3:30pm

  • Eric Leenders, MD, Head of Personal Finance, UK Finance

4:05pm

  • John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to HM Treasury and City Minister
  • Guy Opperman MP, Minister for Financial Inclusion, DWP

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