Ed Balls calls for banks to protect consumers at Which? forumConsumer savings must be protected

09 September 2011

Ed Balls MP and Peter Vicary-Smith

Shadow chancellor discusses the current banking regime

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls supported consumers' opinions that there is an urgent need for banks that will listen to customer needs.

Attendees at a Which? forum on the banking situation heard the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls call for greater protection of consumer accounts, ahead of the Independent Banking Commission's (IBC) report. Ed Balls said: 'The banks should never be allowed to play a gambling game with consumers' savings again.'

The shadow chancellor was critical of the way that banks such as RBS were able to take massive risks with consumers' money, only to be bailed out by the taxpayer. He was adamant that this practice should not be allowed to continue.

You can hear more from the Which? interview with Ed Balls MP here.

Overdraft and debt

Consumers attending the event, held at the King's Fund in London, expressed their anger at the lack of support they'd received from their banks.

One told the panel, which also included Chris Leslie MP, Which? executive director Richard Lloyd and Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith, that she had been charged £100 by her bank because she had gone £2 overdrawn after topping up her Oyster Card. She'd previously checked with the bank whether she would be able to dip into the red and was told that this could not happen. 

Ed Balls responded that he'd pressed hard for financial education to be included in the national curriculum for schools but this proposal was vetoed by the current administration. 

PPI problems persist

Another attendee, Helen Harper, raised the issue of payment protection insurance. She said: 'The banks have let us all down. They are just greedy and interested in lining their pockets with our money. 

'I was mis-sold PPI and it took three years to get the money back. Sure, there is a system in place, but I can't understand why it took so long. The banks seem to have free rein on how they operate. I bet a lot of people give up before getting any resolution.'

You can read more about PPI and what to do if you've been affected on our Campaigns site, which includes a template letter to help you claim your money back.

A need for change

Ed Balls acknowledged that there is a need for change but admitted that the process may take time. 

Speaking to Which? after the event he said that there is a real desire for change, and people want tougher regulation of the banking sector and he looked forward to seeing the IBC's report, overseen by Sir John Vickers, on Monday. 

He added: 'We need to make sure that the consumer voice is heard and not just when things go wrong. This needs to be part of the normal practice and not an add on.'

  • For more on the event see Which? Money Twitter account
  • Also, visit our guide to the Banking Crisis and related issues.
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