Financial inclusion and consumer affairs

Today, financial services are not a luxury, but an absolute necessity for anyone who wants to play a full part in society. That is why Lord McFall has been a long-standing champion for consumers in the world of finance.

Lord McFall has put the ordinary person first in his work on the banking industry and he has promoted access to financial services for those who are often excluded, whether because they have a low income or because they lack the confidence or capability to engage.

In 2010, Lord McFall was awarded the Consumer Champion award by the consumer organisation Which?, for his work advocating consumers in banking and finance:

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Earlier, in 2007, Lord McFall received the Citizens’ Advice Parliamentarian of the Year award for his work on financial inclusion and championing the consumer.

Cheques

Recently, Lord McFall has been active in calling for cheques to be protected, amidst proposals from the Payments Council for them to be scrapped.

In the House of Lords, Lord McFall has questioned the Government over whether it would be advisable to scrap cheques, and whether there is sufficient evidence to justify such a proposal.

Whilst Lord McFall was Chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Committee, his Committee launched an inquiry into cheques, and reported that the Payments Council had too much power to make decisions over the future of the banking system without sufficient transparency or accountability.

Supporting mutuals and co-operative banking

Lord McFall has been active in supporting the mutual and co-operative model in the financial system. Mutuals have been proven to be safer, more reliable, more inclusive, better value-for-money and more customer-friendly than commercial banks.

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Post Office

John McFall has been active in supporting the Post Office network in providing more services to more people – including a full range of banking services through a Post Bank.

Post Offices reach many thousands of people who are not well served by high street banks and retailers. When the Government contract for the Post Office Card Account was threatened, up to 6,000 Post Office branches could have been threatened with closure – mostly in rural areas and low-income urban areas, where people relied on the Post Office to collect benefits payments or even just access their cash. Lord McFall campaigned to ensure that the POCA stayed with the Post Office, as an essential building block in the process of creating a fully fledged Post Bank.

Free cash machines

Whilst he was Chairman of the Treasury Committee, Lord McFall set up a working group to look at why the number of free cash machines was falling, particularly in low-income areas, leaving many people without full access to their cash.

Lord McFall’s working group was able to make a breakthrough decision – a new ‘financial inclusion premium’ for cash machines in these areas. The result of this was 600 new free cash machines in low-income areas within three years of the agreement being made.

Lord McFall said at the time,

“Hundreds of low-income communities now have instant access to their money, without having to pay for it.”

“I am delighted that the cash machines target has been surpassed. I would like to congratulate LINK as well as all the participating banks and cash machine operators.”

 

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