Policy

Making it easier for people to access and use financial services

Issue

In recent years, customers’ trust in financial services has been severely damaged. Restoring confidence is not an easy task. Alongside reforming how our banks and regulators work, we are taking action to ensure the financial system enables people to access and manage their financial products with confidence and ease.

We are creating a competitive financial services market that will help people to take responsibility for their own finances and plan for the future.

Actions

Helping people make more effective use of banking and financial services

We are:

  • offering consumers the opportunity to access free, unbiased and independent advice about managing their money through the UK’s first Money Advice Service, which is funded by the financial services industry
  • giving full support to an industry-led initiative aimed at developing a suite of simple savings and protection products
  • making it easier for people to save for their retirement and helping them shop around when buying the annuity that will provide them with income at retirement
  • introducing legislation, so that credit unions are able to provide credit to customers they had previously been forced to turn away
  • introducing a cap on the cost of payday loans
  • making it possible for more people to have access to banking and essential financial services

Making sure that bank and credit card charges are fair and competitive

We’ve introduced reforms to give consumers more power and information about bank and credit card charges. These include:

  • new powers for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to require banks to make redress where there has been mis-selling or a legal or regulatory breach
  • new procedures for consumers to take group action through the courts
  • an agreement with the major personal current account providers to bring in measures to enable customers to better manage their account and to take action to avoid bank charges

Background

Consumer credit and personal insolvency

HM Treasury and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills launched the consumer credit and personal insolvency review in October 2010. We issued our response in November 2011.

In December 2010, we published a consultation, ‘A new approach to financial regulation: judgement, focus and stability’ to assess whether consumers and businesses would benefit from consumer credit regulation moving to the new consumer protection and markets authority from the Office of Fair Trading.

Read more about how we are making consumer credit markets fairer.

Financial and banking services for poorer households

The Financial Inclusion Taskforce was set up in 2005 and it completed its work in March 2011. The taskforce completed a review of banking services for poorer households in December 2010.

Simple products

In November 2011 the former Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban, asked Carol Sergeant to chair an independent steering group, looking into the creation of a suite of financial products that are transparent and easy to understand. Since then, more than 50 organisations have worked to put together a set of recommendations.

In March 2013, the recommendations were published in the final report of the Sergeant Review of Simple Financial Products.

Help us improve GOV.UK

Please don't include any personal or financial information, for example your National Insurance or credit card numbers.