Good news! Lloyds Banking Group has announced an overhaul of its unarranged overdraft fees.
The new policy, due to be introduced in November by Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland and Halifax, signifies concrete progress in our campaign against excessive unarranged overdraft fees.
This news should effectively put an end to these fees, but whether the new policy will prove less costly for everyone is yet to be seen.
In place of the traditional fees, all customers will pay a simple daily rate for using an overdraft with charges assessed on how much customers borrow and for how long.
Due to the significant detriment unarranged overdraft fees can bring to consumers, we have been campaigning hard for banking reform in this area for some time now. With Lloyds Banking Group taking the first step to improve its overdraft systems, we’re hopeful other high street banks will follow suit.
Despite this win, we’re calling on Lloyds to continue supporting its customers to help them avoid high charges and reduce their level of debt.
Coinciding with this welcome news from Lloyds, we are sending the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) a dossier of evidence reflecting the harm caused by unarranged overdraft fees. Adrian told us:
'My bank charged me but it was their charges that sent me overdrawn and each month it becomes a vicious cycle. I’m on disability benefits, so I have limited income.'
By documenting your experiences, we’re ensuring that the impact on individuals and their families does not go unnoticed. The FCA is currently reviewing high cost short term credit and we want them to use this review to ensure other banks follow Lloyds’s lead.
After a near two-year-long review into the banking sector, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has today announced its proposals to shake up the banking sector.
The CMA concluded that the major banks do not need to compete for customers, and with six in ten consumers having remained with the same bank for more than a decade, the main focus from the regulator has been to encourage bank switching.
A new open banking standard is the main technological solution that the CMA is pushing from today’s package. This will allow new services that are tailored to a customer's individual needs - for example using a mobile phone app to manage accounts held with a different provider, and compare better deals based on their banking usage.
The regulator believes that this will encourage more people to switch, and is requiring banks to deliver it by 2018, however concerns have been expressed about potential security issues.
On unarranged overdraft charges, the regulator has proposed that banks should alert customers whenever they are about to run into their overdraft and give them 'grace periods' to help them avoid charges, but it has not gone as far as to impose a controlled cap on charges, despite our research revealing that some overdrafts can cost as much as a payday loan.
Our Director of Policy and Campaigns, Alex Neill, said:
‘The steps outlined today, to provide customers with better information and an improved switching experience, are welcome. However it is questionable whether these measures will be enough, not only to increase competition but also to ensure banks deliver a better service for their customers.
‘It is disappointing that the monthly charge cap is not actually a cap and banks will be allowed to continue to charge exorbitant fees for so called unauthorised overdrafts, rather than protect those customers that have been identified as among the most vulnerable.’
With over 50,000 supporters backing our call for Better Banks, some of today’s proposals to shake up banking will be welcome news. However, it’s clear that more needs to be done to deliver much needed improvements in banking for all consumers.
We expect the Financial Conduct Authority to now press ahead and test these proposed remedies. But with unarranged overdraft charges at such crippling high rates we’re calling for the regulator to review overdraft charges and crackdown on these punitive fees.
Back our call for genuine better banking by signing our petition today.
Two of the big banks have come out in support of our Better Banks campaign, which calls on the industry to deliver better everyday banking for their customers.