On 19 December, the Financial Services Bill received Royal Assent, becoming an Act of Law. Which? ran the Watchdog not Lapdog campaign alongside the Bill, calling for the Financial Conduct Authority to be a strong, open and proactive financial regulator.
Which? launched the campaign to ensure the new regulator was given the necessary powers to protect consumers’ finances. Since April 2012, the Financial Services Authority has been transferring its consumer protection powers to the new financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
How our campaign made a difference
The Which? Watchdog not Lapdog campaign has seen a number of successes thanks to more than 8,800 who supported our campaign and more than 75 MPs who adopted Milo. The following changes to improve how the regulator works have been made to the Bill:
- Revenue from fines levied against banks by the FCA will now be used to benefit consumers rather than lowering levies in the following year.
- The FCA will now have to publish the agenda and the minutes of its board meetings.
- The FCA has been granted fuller powers to regulate the with-profits area, giving greater protection to with-profits holders.
- The FCA will have the power to curb the cost, charges and duration of high cost credit such as payday loans.
The government also made clear during the debate that the FCA would have the necessary powers required to deal with unfair hidden charges across a range of financial products and services. It also confirmed the FCA would be granted the power to clamp down on misleading information on financial products.
However, this does not mean this is the end of the Watchdog not Lapdog campaign. Which? will continue to keep an eye on the new financial regulator to make sure it remains strong, open and proactive, and works in the interest of consumers.
Watchdog not Lapdog support
The Watchdog not Lapdog campaign launched when the draft Financial Services Bill was published in January 2012. Our first job was to find a face for the campaign – so we asked you to submit photographs of your dogs so we could find a suitable candidate. More than 200 of you responded and 1,500 votes later, two year old Hungarian Viszla ‘Milo’ was voted to be our front-dog.
Over the following months, Which? took to the streets and gave you the chance to share your views with the head of the new FCA, Martin Wheatley. Behind the scenes, Which? met regularly with MPs regarding the Bill, discussing consumer issues and gathering support for our amendments. Yvonne Fovargue MP said in the House of Commons, ‘As Which? has often said, we want a watchdog not a lapdog’.
As the Libor scandal emerged in June 2012, it became clear that a strong financial regulator was needed now more than ever. After Parliament returned from recess, the Bill completed its passage through the House of Lords before finally receiving Royal Assent.
- Follow the timeline of our Watchdog not Lapdog campaign
- Find out if your MP adopted Milo, the Which? watchdog
- Pledge your support for Big Change in the banks