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Lords Committee urges FCA to act on ‘unacceptable’ financial exclusion

House of Lords

More needs to be done to tackle a “vicious circle” of debt and overcharging, according to the House of Lords Financial Exclusion Committee.

In a report, the committee urged the government, the FCA and banks to stop the poorest members of society being excluded from even basic financial services and forced to rely on expensive and substandard products.

The announcement follows research showing that more than 1.7 million people in the UK do not have a bank account, while 40% of the working age population had less than £100 in savings.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield, chairman of the House of Lords Financial Exclusion Committee, said: “The UK financial services sector is a world leader, which makes it doubly unacceptable that it is failing those who need it most.

“The ‘poverty premium’—where the poor pay more for a range of services from heating their home to accessing credit—contributes to a vicious circle driving people ever deeper into debt and distress. 

“Action must be taken to ensure the financial system in this country works for all.”

The report suggested the government should show its commitment to addressing the issue by broadening the remit of the FCA to prioritise tackling financial exclusion.

Among these proposals were new rules requiring banks to have a duty of care towards their customers, helping to protect customers and reduce the potential for unfair practices.

The committee also recommended introducing restrictions similar to the payday loan interest cap for other forms of high-cost credit, including rent-to-own products and unarranged overdraft fees.

“The government and the FCA should introduce a duty of care for bank customers – currently some banks deliver on their social responsibilities, but too many don’t,” added Baroness Tyler.

“It is time we required them to do so.

“Banks should also ensure they are offering – and properly promoting – basic bank accounts to those customers who need them.”

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