The Financial Abuse Code of Practice, designed to take forward the Financial Services Vulnerability Taskforce recommendations, will aim to bring increased awareness and better understanding of what abuse “looks like” for firms, colleagues, victims, potential victims and their families.
The aim is to ensure more consistency in the support available for those who need it.
The high-level Vulnerability Taskforce principles which the Financial Abuse Code of Practice supports are:
1.Raising awareness and encouraging disclosure
2.Training of colleagues
3.Identification and appropriate response
4.Minimising the need to repeat one’s story in the same organisation
5.Help to regain control of finances
6.Signposting and referrals
The Code of Practice has been developed with the help of charities, victim support groups and government departments, alongside UK Finance’s Financial Abuse Project Group and Consumer Advisory Group.
UK Finance is the trade association formed last year to represent the finance and banking industry. It represents 300 firms providing credit, banking, markets and payment-related services. It combines most of the activities previously carried out by the Asset Based Finance Association, the British Bankers’ Association, the Council of Mortgage Lenders, Financial Fraud Action UK, Payments UK and the UK Cards Association.
UK Finance says that financial abuse can take a variety of different forms within relationships, whether by intimate partners, family members or carers and may manifest itself as financial control, dependency, exploitation or sabotage.
The Financial Abuse Code of Practice considers financial abuse scenarios including those within the context of partner relationships, domestic abuse but also the older population as a “particularly relevant demographic at risk.”
Over the next 12 months, 11 of the largest high street firms have committed to implementing the voluntary Code with more expected to follow.
As the code is rolled out, victims will be able to have more informed conversations with their providers and the code will provide greater awareness of the impact of abuse on their personal and financial circumstances, give enhanced support to regain control of their finances and greater consistency in the support individuals receive across providers.
Eric Leenders, managing director of Personal Finance at UK Finance, said: “This new voluntary Code provides further guidance for banks and building societies and, once rolled-out, will help raise awareness amongst staff so that victims of financial abuse can be confident that they will be treated sympathetically and positively in these particularly difficult circumstances.”