On 29 June 2023, the FCA along with Ofcom, Ofgem, Ofwat and the UK Regulators Network (UKRN) have published a joint Dear CEO letter outlining their shared expectations of firms during the rising cost of living.

The letter explains that, when dealing with customers in financial difficulty, all firms across the regulated financial services, energy, water and communications sectors are expected to:

  • Consider the customer’s situation, recognising that the individual may have multiple debts and may be dealing with multiple creditors across sectors, and reflect this in the support offered.
  • Proactively raise awareness of the support available to consumers and, when customers reach out or indicate they are at risk of falling into financial difficulty, or the firm otherwise becomes aware of this, provide early support, as this can make a big difference to customer outcomes.
  • Make it easy for customers to get the support they need, for example by providing different channels for customers to get in touch, recognising that customers in vulnerable circumstances may have particular needs, and proactively promoting social tariff options where these are available.
  • Tailor support so it is appropriate to the customer’s circumstances (including their ability to pay and whether they are in vulnerable circumstances). Consider using an objective/standardised measure to assess the customer’s financial circumstances to help minimise the burden of them having to provide different information to different firms.
  • Make referrals and provide information at the right time so customers can access advice and support that meets their needs.
  • Monitor customers’ outcomes and take actions to put things right if they go wrong.

As an immediate next step, the regulators will also consider what their shared expectations are in relation to debt collection across different sectors.