We strongly welcome the Chancellor’s response to UK Finance’s proposals, as well as the recognition that they should go significantly further than their current position. We are particularly pleased that the Chancellor has set an expectation that the bank’s default position should be that there is no cap on the amount of compensation awarded.
The Chancellor has also opened the door to reopen complaints considered by schemes such as the Lloyds Bank Griggs Review and the RBS GRG Review who feel that their cases were not properly addressed.
We are also pleased that the Chancellor will take a continued interest in the scheme and will expect changes in terms of scope and eligibility if it is not bringing resolution to a meaningful number of complaints. This reinforces the need for the scheme to be considered as fit for purpose by all stakeholders at the outset.
These historic cases have plagued the business banking sector for many years and will continue to be a drag on market confidence unless they are dealt with properly.
Kevin Hollinrake MP, Co-Chair of the APPG, said: “The Chancellor has accepted our calls, together with those of the Treasury Select Committee, Members of Parliament on both sides of the House, SME Alliance and many others who have represented the interests of victims, to significantly improve the eligibility, claims limits and governance of the scheme. For the first time, we now believe that we will have the potential for a scheme which is independent, impartial and will be able to provide redress for the majority of cases that we are dealing with.”
The Chancellor has made it clear that the historic scheme must provide final closure to these legacy issues and as such, it is critical that the eligibility criteria is extended as wide as possible. We cannot continue to deny access to justice for any businesses any longer and this scheme must provide the opportunity for resolution to SMEs who have not had anywhere independent to take their complaint. Any previous schemes in which the banks have had a say on the design and parameters of the scheme are by their very nature not independent, and so complainants must be included in this scheme.
It is vital that eligibility, including the arbitrary turnover limit of £10m, is discussed as part of the Steering Group. It will only be on this basis that we will have the confidence in the process required to contribute to the Steering Group. It is vital that the Steering Group has a balanced representation from banks, business representatives and relevant parties. Anything less will not be acceptable to the APPG.
We are delighted that there is now a clear expectation that compensation is paid in line with the decisions of an independent assessor. We will be calling for public reporting on levels awarded against levels paid to ensure that the banks adhere to the decisions of the assessor.
It must also be the case that the ‘lessons learned’ document is produced independently from the banks and must be in the public domain.