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Ending Financial Abuse: New Code of Practice for Banks

22 Octending financial abuse logotype

UK Finance – a large trade association for the UK banking and finance profession – has introduced a new code of practice to provide recommendations to its members about identifying financial abuse and helping those who are experiencing it to regain control of their money. Examples of financial abuse can include controlling bank accounts, using (and misusing) credit cards and gambling with shared assets. Limiting access to funds can impact a person’s ability to break free from an abusive relationship and can lead to isolation from friends and family. People that have experienced financial abuse in a relationship may still face difficulties afterwards: paying off large debts and having a poor credit rating. We welcome the new code of practice as a positive step towards ending financial abuse.

About UK Finance

UK Finance was formed in July 2017 as a unification of 6 trade associations that had previously represented various interests in the financial industry. They represent around 300 firms that provide banking and credit and payment services. These firms include organisations such as American Express, Aviva, Halifax, HSBC, Nationwide and NatWest. More information on their work and a full list of members can be found on the About Us pages of the UK Finance website. 

The Code of Practice

The new code of practice is formed from six key principles:

  • Raising awareness and encouraging disclosure. Staff at financial institutions should know what financial abuse is and understand the challenges that people experiencing it face.
  • Training of colleagues. Public-facing members of staff should be trained to recognise the signs of financial abuse and be able to provide support to customers.
  • Identification and appropriate response. Trained staff will be able to minimise distress and advise customers who have disclosed that they are being abused about the next steps to take.
  • Minimising the need to repeat one’s story. Supporting the customer in dealing with other departments by notifying other necessary areas of the business.
  • Help regain control of finances. Helping customers to access money and changing any necessary security details, including removing the need for both parties to sign to close a joint account.
  • Signposting and referrals. Liaising with other outside agencies, such as charities or independent legal advisors, that can provide further support.

The full code of practice can be downloaded from the UK Finance website.

Tackling Financial Abuse

The recent consultation for the government’s Domestic Abuse Bill had a focus on financial abuse and what could be done to help tackle it. Despite this, there have been articles questioning whether the government fully understands financial abuse, particularly around the Universal Credit system and single payments for couples. We hope that the issues with the way Universal Credit is paid will be resolved and that the government’s domestic abuse bill will work to raise awareness of financial abuse, also bringing in policies to support to those experiencing it. 

Leeway is an independent domestic abuse charity. If you are experiencing financial abuse, or have concerns about someone else, call our support line on 0300 561 0077 for confidential advice.

Leeway provide training sessions that are aimed at increasing the awareness of the effects of domestic abuse, including financial abuse. For more information about any of our training services, please email admin@leewaynwa.org.uk

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