Top stories

  • EU leaders to discuss final Brexit withdrawal terms
  • Treasury Committee launches inquiry into bank IT failures
  • Cyber threats to Black Friday

Stat of the day

£5.6 per cent – the change in the average real wage since the pre-crash peak in February 2008, according to the new Money Charity monthly statistics bulletin.

EU leaders to discuss final Brexit withdrawal terms

The Brexit agreement potentially moves one step closer to being finalised today, as EU officials meet to evaluate both the withdrawal agreement and the joint political declaration for future relations between the UK and EU (BBC, online only). Spain, however, has major reservations over the status of Gibraltar, accusing the UK government of ‘treachery’ threatening to vote against the deal (Guardian, p1).

Dominic Raab MP appeared on this morning’s BBC R4 Today and criticised the government’s Brexit deal, saying that the UK would be locked into a single market union backstop with a EU veto over its ability to exit. Raab also claimed the global trade opportunities of Brexit would disappear with the EU controlling UK laws, reducing its competitiveness.

Stephen Jones, Chief Executive of UK Finance, welcomed the call for the UK and EU to enter into “appropriate consultation” before changes to equivalence decisions, saying: “Avoiding a no deal cliff edge remains the absolute priority for the banking and finance industry.

“This draft political declaration provides further clarification as to what a deal might look like. It lays the foundations for negotiations on future trade between the EU and UK including in financial services, with a clear commitment to close regulatory cooperation and appropriate consultation over future equivalence decisions.” (City AM, online only).

Treasury Committee launches inquiry into bank IT failures

The Treasury Committee is today launching a new inquiry into IT failures in the financial services sector. The Committee will examine the ability of financial services institutions such as banks to guard against service disruptions and to put things right in the event that disruptions do occur.

Commenting on the launch of the inquiry, Rt Hon. Nicky Morgan MP, Chair of the Treasury Committee, said: “The number of IT failures at banks and other financial institutions in recent years is astonishing. Since becoming Chair of the Committee 16 months ago, there have been problems at Equifax, TSB, Visa, Barclays, Cashplus and RBS, to name a few.

“Millions of customers have been affected by the uncertainty and disruption caused by failures of banking IT systems. Measly apologies and hollow words from financial services institutions will not suffice when consumers aren’t able to access their own money and face delays in paying bills.

“As bank branches close and customers are ushered towards online services, the availability of those services is vital.

“The Committee has launched this inquiry to consider the causes and consequences of these failures and will examine what industry and regulators are doing to promote operational resilience.”

UK Finance responded to the inquiry, reinforcing how the banking industry is committed to providing the best possible service, ensuring customers are able to access and manage their money. When incidents do occur, firms work around the clock to minimise disruption and get services back up and running as quickly as possible. UK Finance members continue to invest billions to ensure systems, human and digital, are robust and secure and we will continue to work closely with regulators, government and industry to protect the UK’s financial system, institutions and customers. (City Am, p5, Telegraph, B1, £, Independent, online only).

Cyber threats to Black Friday

The National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ, has warned that Black Friday is a prime target for cyber crime and has issued its first official warning to online shoppers about malicious threats (BBC, online only). With more than 550 significant cyber-incidents tackled by the NCSC in the past 12 months, and 140,000 “phishing” websites taken down, they are keen to make the public more aware of the best ways to stay safe online. Up to £1.5bn worth of online shopping is expected on Black Friday (Guardian, p4), a quarter of this expected to be on credit cards.

Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime UK Finance, said: “It is really important that customers can recognise when they are being duped. UK Finance’s Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, run in conjunction with the Home Office, is designed to help consumers protect themselves from typical scams by identifying when it is not safe to hand over personal information or transfer money.”

Latest from UK Finance

Paul Chisnall blogs about the success of our inaugural Women In Finance event last week and how it is leading the way towards a more equal workplace.

News in Brief

Michael Saunders, a member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, has said Britain’s aging population will mean future interest rate rises will have less impact as older people with net savings tend to be less affected (The Times, p54, £).

UK workers are expected to receive a 0.8 per cent real-term salary increase in 2019, double that received in 2018 (City AM, p18).

The inheritance tax (IHT) regime is too complicated and needs a dramatic overhaul, according to a government-commissioned report by the Office of Tax Simplification (Financial Times, online only, £).

Over a quarter of graduates have taken up an unpaid internship and many have to rely on parents, friends and second jobs to get by according to educational charity Sutton Trust (Guardian, p30).

What the commentators say

Vernon Bogdanor, professor of government at King’s College, describes in the Guardian (Journal, p3) the constitutional implications of the upcoming Brexit vote in parliament. He details, if MPs don’t back the prime minister’s Brexit deal in full, Theresa May will have little option but to resign. This would have several consequences, but perhaps the most likely is that MPs from across the house could introduce legislation to ensure there is a second or third referendum on Brexit, due to the cross-party support a ‘people’s vote’ holds.

Jeremy Warner, assistant editor of the Daily Telegraph (£, p27), writes that any economic problems from Brexit will be eclipsed by the wider slowdown in the world economy. He cites the example of the trade war between the US and China and how the effects of this could possibly trigger recessions around the world. He concludes that if such a development occurs, the European Union does not have the strength to withstand even the mildest of recessions, and the Union would be tipped into another financial crisis.

Calendar

  • EU27 government representatives meeting ahead of European Council to evaluate the European Commission’s Joint Political Declaration
  • ONS report into Regional differences in unpaid work published

For a full list of upcoming UK Finance statistics releases, please click here.

News in brief – 23 November 2018