13 November 2012
The Financial Services Consumer Panel has today welcomed changes to the Financial Services Bill that will enable the regulator to take account of access to financial services for consumers. Following pressure from the Panel and other consumer groups the Government moved an amendment1 allowing the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to consider access to financial services, in order to balance the effect of its new competition powers.
A requirement for the FCA to take into account the availability of basic financial services was one of the key changes requested by the Panel. The Panel was concerned that without this change people could be denied access to banking facilities in rural and poorer communities and we would see further reductions in the availability of insurance.
Adam Phillips, Consumer Panel Chair commented:
“The change to the Bill on access is a definite win for consumers. We were concerned that without this concession people could suffer real harm. You only have to look at the withdrawal of banking services in rural areas or geographic restrictions on insurance to see the importance of the new Financial Conduct Authority ensuring widespread access to financial services.
The Panel has worked closely with other consumer groups to lobby for this change and we are pleased to see the Government has listened. There is no point calling for more effective competition for banking or insurance services if people cannot get access to them in the first place.”
Notes to editors
The Government’s amendment 27 in the name of Lord Sassoon:.
Page 22, line 9, at end insert—
“( ) the ease with which consumers who may wish to use those services, including consumers in areas affected by social or economic deprivation, can access them,”
- The Consumer Panel’s latest briefing on the Financial Services Bill is available on our website.
- The Consumer Panel is a statutory body under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and was initially established by the Financial Services Authority in December 1998. The Panel advises the FSA on the interests and concerns of consumers and reports on the FSA's performance in meeting its objectives.
- The Panel’s membership is drawn from a broad range of backgrounds with expertise including market research, law, financial services industry, financial inclusion, European Regulation, financial regulation, consumer advice, campaigning, communications, compliance and later-life issues.
- The emphasis of the Panel's work is on activities that are regulated by the FSA, although it may also look at the impact on consumers of activities outside but related to the FSA's remit. More information about the Panel's work is available on our website.
- Panel members are appointed to serve a maximum of two terms of three years.