15 July, 2021
In a speech to mark the publication of the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) new business plan for 2021/22, FCA CEO Nikhil Rathi set out the vision for its role in the post-Covid, post-Brexit environment, pledging to be a more, innovative, adaptive and assertive regulator.
Responding to the business plan, Peter Tutton, Head of Policy, Research and Public Affairs at StepChange, said:
"With the country dusting itself off from the financial impacts of the pandemic, the role of the FCA in ensuring more positive outcomes for consumers will be crucial over the next few years, so it’s extremely encouraging to see this new set of priorities that builds on the work of the Woolard Review and encompasses such a wide range of needs. We’re particularly pleased to see a focus on consumers in financial difficulty. In coming months, many people who’ve not recovered financially from the last 18 months will be turning to lenders for support – building on tailored support guidance put in place during the pandemic is crucial to ensure those in difficulty can access the help they need.
"Meanwhile, with our research showing 7 million people were behind on essentials or borrowed to make ends meet due to the pandemic, a commitment to increase the availability of legal alternatives to high-cost credit while ensuring firms properly assess affordability and support customers who encounter difficulty is more important than ever. We hope the Government will match this commitment with complementary changes to public policy, like the establishment of a national No-Interest Loan scheme.
"It’s also encouraging to see the FCA confirm its intention to appraise current debt advice rules with a view to ensuring people can access high quality advice. For too long, consumers have faced significant barriers to getting the right help, such as falling prey to IVA lead generators impersonating debt charities. Dealing with problems such as these to ensure that there is good availability of high quality, free debt advice that identifies accessible solutions for financially vulnerable people is vital."
Notes to Editors
- You can view the FCA’s business plan and CEO speech here.