Charity welcomes Treasury Committee call for radical change to ensure people with mental health problems get fair deal from financial services
13 May 2019
The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute has welcomed a new report published today by the Treasury Select Committee, which calls for sweeping changes to ensure people with mental health problems get a fair deal from financial services.
The new report, ‘Consumers’ access to financial services’, makes a number of important recommendations for financial firms and regulators based on research by Money and Mental Health, which could make a huge difference to financial outcomes for people with mental health problems. In particular, it recommends that:
- The government should act make debt collection letters more supportive and less intimidating, by updating rules on the prescribed content of these letters contained in the Consumer Credit Act (1974) – as called for in Money and Mental Health’s ‘Stop the Debt Threats’ campaign.
- Banks should introduce optional spending controls to help vulnerable consumers better manage their money, and protect access to cash for this group by preserving bank branches and free-to-use ATMs
- The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) should do more to address illegal discrimination by travel insurance providers against people with mental health problems.
Commenting on the report’s recommendations to make debt collection letters less intimidating, Helen Undy, Chief Executive of Money and Mental Health, said:
“Each year in England over 100,000 people in problem debt attempt suicide in England, and the intimidating letters people receive from creditors can leave them feeling there is no way out. We’re calling on the government to change the rules on the content of these letters, to make them less threatening and more supportive for people in problem debt. We’re thrilled that the Committee has backed that call – now the Government needs to act, as these letters are destroying lives.”
On the report’s recommendations on preserving access to cash and introducing spending tools, Helen Undy said:
“Many people with mental health problems rely on cash for budgeting and managing their money. It’s really encouraging that the Committee has called for the government and firms to protect access to cash, particularly for vulnerable people.
“The call for more financial firms to introduce optional spending controls, such as gambling blocks, is welcome. These kinds of tools are already helping thousands of people to manage their money, and we want to see them available from every bank and credit card company.”
On the call for the FCA to act on discrimination by travel insurance providers against people with mental health problems, Helen Undy said:
“Our research shows that people with mental health problems are struggling to get access to travel insurance, or can see their premiums increase by as much as 400%, even if their conditions were historic or had a minimal impact on their lives. Given that half of us will experience a mental health problem at some stage in our life, the Financial Conduct Authority’s focus on signposting people to specialist insurers is inadequate. We’re pleased that the Committee has called on the regulator to do more to tackle this discrimination right across the insurance market.”
For more details, and for any other media enquiries, please contact Brian Semple, Head of External Affairs at Money and Mental health, on 07595 439 638 or 07935 216 804
|NOTES TO EDITORS
The Treasury Select Committee report will be available here from 0001 on Monday 13 May 2019.
About Money and Mental Health Policy Institute: