3:  Adding a Financial Inclusion Objective to the Remit of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Today (22 February 2021) is the first day of Committee Stage for the Financial Services Bill in the House of Lords. I will be speaking in support of several amendments and putting forward three amendments in my own name; to better protect small and medium-sized enterprises, to review financial services regulation and to ensure more is done to improve financial inclusion.

The third of my amendments to be debated during todays proceedings will be amendment 9 – to require the FCA to have an objective to promote financial inclusion in financial services. The full text of the amendment:

Insert the following new Clause—

“FCA objective to promote financial inclusion in financial services

(1) The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 is amended as follows.

(2) In section 1B (the FCA’s general duties),

after subsection (3)(c) insert—

“(d) the financial inclusion objective (see section 1EA).”

(3) After section 1E insert—

“1EA The financial inclusion objective

(1) The financial inclusion objective is promoting financial inclusion across UK financial services.

(2) In fulfilling this objective, the FCA must place a requirement on all regulated financial services companies to report on their use of financial technology to increase financial inclusion.””

Amendment 9, Lord Holmes of Richmond, Committee Stage Day 1, Financial Services Bill, House of Lords 22 February 2021

Financial exclusion has dogged our nation for decades.  It ruins lives, paralyses potential and corrodes communities.

This amendment would assist the FCA in gaining a greater grip on the problem and address the blockers, barriers and bias causing so many to remain so shamefully shut out of mainstream financial services.  Such services which would be so enabling, empowering to each and every one of them.

I have also included a provision for the FCA to require firms to report on their use of financial technology (Fintech)  in the pursuit of this objective.  This is not to suggest that Fintech is a single solution. I am keenly aware of the issues surrounding financial inclusion and, as important, digital inclusion.  Fintech, though, can, and must, be a material part of what can be done here.

Being financially excluded is devastating and destructive, not just for individuals unable to access mainstream financial services, but for all of us as a society.  Ensuring greater financial inclusion makes sense. It makes psychological, it makes social, it makes economic sense. This amendment would add to the collective and widespread work in this area.

Related posts:

Financial Services Bill Amendments: 1. Improving Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) rights by permitting rights of action for breaches of Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) handbook.

Financial Services Bill Amendments: 2. Introducing a Review of Financial Services Regulations.

House of Lords Select Committee Report, Tackling financial exclusion: A country that works for everyone?

The Financial Inclusion Centre, Financial Vulnerability and Rights

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