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Future of Banking Commission begins

Unions, charities and media give evidence

Houses of Parliament

The first hearing of the new Future of Banking Commission took place on Tuesday, taking evidence from key players in the financial sector, including representatives from trade unions, charities and the media.

The Commission, chaired by former shadow home secretary David Davis MP, heard calls for banks to provide and promote basic bank accounts as a matter of course. Sian McLean, head of financial inclusion at social inclusion think tank Toynbee Hall, told the Commission: ‘It’s important that everyone has access to a basic bank account, so that everyone can participate fully in society and avoid falling into a cycle of debt and financial exclusion.’

Participants, including Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith, Dr Vince Cable, MP and John McFall MP, also debated the importance of encouraging consumers to switch between banks if they are not content with their current provider, and recognised that access to fair and impartial advice, bank accounts and affordable credit are all essential.

The Future of Banking Commission was set up in conjunction with Which? to give consumers a say in the way the banking sector is run. It brings together MPs. regulators, industry bodies and consumers. Last week, more than 300 consumers turned out to discuss the future of the UK banks at Which?’s Big Banking Debate. The findings from the debate will be fed into the Future of Banking Commission.

The Commission will hold two more hearings over the coming weeks. Witnesses include the governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, and chairman of the Financial Services Authority, Lord Turner. The Commission will compile a report in the spring, which will be presented to the new government after the general election.

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