Bank Services: Vetting

Treasury written question – answered at on 11 September 2023.

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Photo of Matt Vickers Matt Vickers Conservative, Stockton South

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will take steps to help ensure that banks are not able to deny banking services to people because of their political beliefs.

Photo of Andrew Griffith Andrew Griffith The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

The Government has been unequivocal in its view that payment accounts should not be terminated on grounds relating to users’ exercising of their right to lawful freedom of expression or political beliefs. The Government strongly supports this fundamental right afforded to all people in British society. Regulation 18 of the Payments Accounts Regulations 2015 bans this so-called ‘debanking’ of people for their political views in relation to discrimination against UK consumers when they access a payment account provided by a credit institution.

The Government published a policy statement on 21 July that set out its plans to strengthen requirements relating to payment contract terminations. These changes will require reasons for termination to be given and increase the minimum notice period in cases of contract termination to 90 days (subject to limited exceptions) – giving customers more time to challenge a decision through the Financial Ombudsman Service or find a replacement bank.

In addition, the Chancellor has written to the FCA to request an urgent review into the matter of ‘de-banking’ more broadly. The FCA have agreed to undertake this review, and to share the evidence and findings with the Treasury. This will help inform whether further action is necessary to ensure nobody is being unfairly denied banking facilities.

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