On 10 May 2019, the House of Commons’ Treasury Committee (the Committee) published its twenty-ninth report of session 2017 – 19 on consumers’ access to financial services.

The Committee launched the consumers’ access to financial services inquiry on 9 November 2018. The report sets out the evidence that the Committee received in the course of its inquiry as well as the Committee’s recommendations for Government and regulators on where the Committee feels action needs to be taken.

The Committee’s recommendations include:

  • the FCA requiring financial services providers to report how many basic current account openings they have rejected and the reason why. This information should be published bi-annually to increase transparency and oversight;
  • HM Treasury and the FCA consulting on bringing in a standardised list of identification papers that are acceptable as identification for a basic bank account and that financial services providers should accept as many forms of identification as possible, and think creatively about more forms of identification that could be accepted;
  • the Government and the FCA consulting on how the use of power of attorney works in practice with regard to financial services, and whether the current powers that exist are fit for purpose. The wider use of carer cards should be explored and encouraged by the FCA;
  • the FCA making it mandatory for firms to publish the size of their loyalty penalties on an annual basis to consumers so that consumers are fully informed. Even if many consumers choose to ignore such information, others will not, and the inclusion of such information may motivate firms to make efforts to reduce their loyalty penalty; and
  • it is up to the industry to determine how best to maintain face-to-face banking, but options such as a greater expansion of mobile bank branches; sharing bank branch facilities with other banks, shops or community buildings; or pooling staff of different banks within one premises should be considered.