10th May 2022
The Financial Services and Markets Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech this morning, is expected to deliver the government’s ‘Future Regulatory Framework, which proposes fundamental changes to the purpose of the rules that shape the critical financial services sector, and who holds power over them.
The Treasury has announced that the Bill will include new laws to protect access to cash ‘by ensuring continued access to withdrawal and deposit facilities across the UK’. Consumer groups and civil society organisations such as Positive Money have long campaigned for stronger laws to ensure access to cash, which is still relied on by millions for everyday payments.
The government has also indicated that it plans to push ahead with plans to introduce new objectives for regulators to promote the ‘growth and international competitiveness’ of the financial sector.
The proposal has come under fire from civil society groups, who warn that it could erode the ability of regulators to act in the public interest and catalyse a global ‘race to the bottom’ on social and environmental standards. New polling released yesterday by the Finance Innovation Lab reveals that two thirds of the public believe the government’s proposal is out of touch and elitist, while nearly seven in ten (67%) people think the proposal puts the needs of the City of London first, undermining the government’s levelling-up ambitions.
Fran Boait, executive director of Positive Money, said:
“After years of banks and card companies waging a war on cash to boost their own profits, legislation to protect people’s access to this vital means of payment is long overdue.
“The government’s commitment to protecting cash is welcome, but its plans to force regulators to promote the ‘growth and international competitiveness’ of the City of London is at odds with such efforts to increase financial inclusion, as well as the government’s climate and ‘levelling up’ goals.
“A focus on the growth and ‘competitiveness’ of the finance sector is what led us down the path to the 2008 financial crisis, and will mean regulators prioritising banks’ profits over the public’s access to financial services, as well as the wider health of the economy.”
- ‘New law to protect access to cash announced in Queen’s speech’, HM Treasury, 10th May 2022: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-law-to-protect-access-to-cash-announced-in-queens-speech?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications-topic&utm_source=092916df-2c99-41ac-847b-9a65e94c8ce2&utm_content=immediately
- ‘Poll shows widespread concern over Chancellor’s financial reforms’, Finance Innovation Lab press release, 9th May 2022: https://financeinnovationlab.org/queens-speech-2022-poll-shows-widespread-concern-over-chancellors-financial-reforms/
- ‘37 civil society groups come together to oppose plans for financial regulators to prioritise ‘international competitiveness’, Positive Money, 22 March 2022: https://positivemoney.org/2022/02/public-says-no-to-financial-deregulation/
- Positive Money is a research and campaign organisation working towards a money and banking system which supports a fair, democratic and sustainable economy. Set up in the aftermath of the financial crisis, Positive Money is a not-for-profit company funded by charitable trusts and foundations, as well as small donations from its network of over 65,000 supporters. www.positivemoney.org.
- For more information from Positive Money or to arrange a briefing/interview with a spokesperson, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Anna Pick on 07948802104.