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West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has today joined forces with consumer champion, Which?, and over 80 fellow parliamentarians in signing a letter asking for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to bring an end to rip-off overdraft fees.

MP Rosie is concerned that residents in West Lancashire might still be paying excessive fees on unarranged overdrafts, some of which may still cost over seven times more than a payday loan according to new research from Which?

Despite scrutiny from the regulator, she feels not enough has been done to protect consumers from these sky-high fees. 

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said:
"We often hear of strict regulation for payday lenders and cracking down on loansharks when the reality is, as this research indicates, much debt and stress can be caused by our high street banks.

“Overdraft fees can be the first step in spiralling into a vicious debt circle which can lead people to resort to credit cards, payday lenders and worse. We need our banks to be responsible and support customers to climb out of debt not increase it.

“That is why I was happy to put my name behind the calls for the Financial Conduct Authority to take action and bring an end to rip-off overdraft fees."

Which? first raised the alarm over these fees in 2016, but new research shows the issue still exists.

The consumer champion compared the cost of borrowing £100 for 30 days in an unarranged overdraft across 16 high-street banks with borrowing the same amount for the same length of time through a payday loan. Overall, 13 of the banks investigated charged more than a payday loan company, and considerably more so in several cases.  

The FCA previously capped payday loan charges, meaning that the cost of a loan in our scenario would be £24. Which? found:

  • Santander is almost 7.5 times* higher and £155 more expensive, charging its customers a massive £179 over 30 days.
  • TSB is over 6.5 times more costly, charging £160.00.
  • This is followed by HSBC and First Direct – over 6 times higher, at £150.
  • RBS and Natwest are £144 and 6 times higher.

Now, Which? has written a letter to the FCA along with 84 MPs from all the main parties, demanding the Financial Conduct Authority takes urgent action to end this unfair  practice by restricting unarranged overdraft charges to the same level as arranged overdrafts.

Gareth Shaw, Which? Money Expert, said:
“It’s alarming that the majority of banks are still allowed to charge more than payday loan firms through these rip-off overdraft fees. These extortionate fees can cost thousands of pounds a year, hitting those who can afford it the least.

“The regulator cannot drag its heels any longer. We must see urgent action to restrict these charges, bringing them into line with arranged overdraft fees to finally end this unfair practice.”

These fees are particularly costly because bank charges apply to their monthly billing period, not the number of days the money is borrowed for, meaning customers can effectively be charged more for going across two charging periods. The Competition and Markets Authority set out to tackle the issue by introducing a monthly maximum charge for unarranged overdrafts in August last year - but the measure has clearly failed to stop banks from charging sky-high rates. Meanwhile, the FCA has previously pledged to tackle the problem, but has delayed consulting on much-needed interventions, leaving people still facing these exorbitant fees.

Since Which? first called for banks to lower their unarranged overdraft fees, the Lloyds Banking Group has acted on its calls and scrapped unarranged overdraft fees, meaning it now has the lowest charges of investigated banks - £19.80 cheaper than a payday loan at just £4.20. Meanwhile, Santander has also committed to Which?’s calls and will remove fees on unarranged overdrafts for its paid current accounts from July this year – although this will not apply to other Santander accounts. Which? and parliamentarians are now calling for other banks to urgently follow suit.

Which Research

Which? reviewed the unplanned overdraft charges levied by the named banks in April 2018 on fee-free accounts with no minimum monthly payment. We assumed the customer had already used up a £1,000 planned overdraft facility, and included all additional daily or monthly charges that applied as a result of the emergency borrowing. We did not include charges for the planned overdraft, interest, or charges that relate to specific account usage, such as paid or unpaid item charges.

* Exact comparisons for the banks are as follows: Santander is 7.45 times more expensive, TSB is over 6.7 times more costly. HSBC and First Direct are 6.25 times higher. RBS and Natwest are 6 times higher.

* Santander charges will no longer apply to its paid current accounts from 10th July 2018, although this will not apply to other Santander accounts.

* Overall, Which?  looked at the following bank accounts: Bank of Scotland (Classic), Lloyds Bank (Classic), Lloyds Bank (Club Lloyds), Halifax (Reward), Danske Bank (Choice), Barclays (Bank Account), Nationwide BS (FlexDirect), Clydesdale Bank (Current Account Plus), Clydesdale Bank (B Current), Yorkshire Bank (B Current), Yorkshire Bank (Current Account Plus) Co-Operative Bank (Current Account Plus), Co-Operative Bank (Standard), Smile (Current Account), First Direct (1st Account), HSBC (Bank Account), TSB (Classic Plus), Natwest (Select), Royal Bank of Scotland (Select), Santander (123 Account). 

May 2016: The CMA proposes requiring banks to set a monthly maximum charge for unarranged overdrafts on personal current accounts. Customers may not even be aware of when they go into unarranged overdraft or realise the costs they are incurring, so the CMA also wants banks to alert people when they are going into unarranged overdraft, and give them time to avoid the charges. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cma-wants-banks-to-work-harder-for-their-customers

Rosie Cooper MP joins forces with Which? to end rip-off overdraft fees

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has today joined forces with consumer champion, Which?, and over 80 fellow parliamentarians in signing a letter asking for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to bring...

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has written to West Lancashire CCG and Virgin Care asking for an update on the promises made at the time of the award of the Community Care contract to the private provider Virgin Care that money would be made available for investment into the voluntary, community and faith sector (VCFS).

The local CVS, who’s CEO is also a member of the CCG governing body, had secured an in principle agreement that a percentage of the health contracts would be made available to local West Lancs VCFS organisations.

They won a commitment from the CCG that during 2017 an additional and recurrent VCFS investment fund of £100k.

Nearly two years on, things appear to have gone very quiet, and local charities have approached Rosie Cooper MP for support, asking what has happened to this money? Has it been distributed? If so where?

Most recently, MP Rosie met with Disability Advice West Lancashire (DAWL) Chief Tony Lewis and his team of Trustees and volunteers to discuss the current situation and concerns around funding.

Rosie_Cooper_MP_with_Tony_Lewis_and_DAWL.jpg

Rosie Cooper MP said:
“We have got some phenomenal people and organisations here in West Lancashire striving to support, advise and help some of our most vulnerable residents.

“But cuts to funding budgets and contracts mean many of these struggle year to year and even month to month, to the point where they are having to consider closing down if funding doesn’t materialise.

“Many of these charities were wooed by talk of hundreds of thousands of pounds being made available in our area following the tendering of services by West Lancashire CCG to Virgin Care, but nearly two years on no one appears to have seen this money.

“The Vice Chair of the CCG Greg Mitten, who is also Chief of the Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) assured DAWL that opportunities were coming but here we are, there’s no money and charities are struggling to keep going.

“I’ve written to the CCG, CVS and to Virgin Care to ask just where this money is, what’s the plan and urging them to get on with dishing it out before it’s too late and we see these organisations ceasing.

“These agencies should keep their word and ensure all the promised support is given to these charities to ensure they can continue to carry out their work helping West Lancashire constituents.”

"Where's the money?" asks Rosie Cooper MP

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has written to West Lancashire CCG and Virgin Care asking for an update on the promises made at the time of the award of the...

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper is pleased to report she has had confirmation from West Lancashire Borough Council that they have served a ‘Breach of Condition Notice’ on the management at Beacon Park Golf Course, Serco.

The breach of condition notice relates particularly to the profiling of a part of the course, whereby the maximum height allowed under the original planning consent has been exceeded, with the quantity of infill which should have been added over the whole site has been concentrated in one area.

This notice is the latest in a long-running five year saga at the course since Serco took on the management of the facility but outsourced the work to Oaklands Leisure which has caused local residents to complain that there was little scrutiny or oversight of the type or quantity of the materials being dumped at the course, nor the money being made by subcontractors.

MP Rosie has raised these issues with both WLBC and Serco Chiefs on many occasions previously, and most recently met with Council Deputy Directors of Leisure, and Housing & Inclusion.

Rosie Cooper MP said:
“What has been going on with Beacon Park Golf Course over many years has been a disgrace and it is timely that action is at last being taken to rectify the situation but this doesn’t end the matter.

“I will continue to pursue this matter as there should be proper accountability by those who made these poor decisions which I believe led to a loss of revenue to WLBC and its council taxpayers from both the course and the proceeds from the amount of rubble and waste materials which have been dumped.

“Serco will now have six months to comply with the breach of condition notice and remove material from the area around the driving range and the foot golf area. I have asked to meet with Serco Directors to get to the bottom of what really has gone on.”

Progress on the Beacon Park Golf Club fiasco, reports Rosie Cooper MP

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper is pleased to report she has had confirmation from West Lancashire Borough Council that they have served a ‘Breach of Condition Notice’ on the management...

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