UK Finance launches updated Financial Abuse Code

Customers experiencing financial difficulties as a result of economic abuse will receive further support to help them regain control of their finances and their independence, as part of an updated industry Code.

Customers experiencing financial difficulties as a result of economic abuse will receive further support to help them regain control of their finances and their independence, as part of an updated industry Code. The changes, in UK Finance's revised voluntary Financial Abuse Code of Practice, will enable the industry to continue its commitment to helping victim-survivors of financial abuse. 

First launched in 2018, the Code was created to increase awareness and understanding amongst firms and their staff of financial abuse and how to spot it. It has been revised to ensure that it reflects the industry's deeper understanding of victim-survivors' needs including the treatment of debt separation. The new Code is aligned with recent legislative and regulatory developments including the Financial Conduct Authority's Guidance on the Fair Treatment of Vulnerable Customers and the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, which for the first time legally recognises economic abuse as a form of abuse.

Twenty-nine institutions covering thirty-nine brands from UK Finance and the Building Societies Association (BSA) membership have committed to implementing the updated Code. This includes fourteen organisations that have committed to the Code for the first time.

Eric Leenders, Managing Director of Personal Finance at UK Finance, said

Financial abuse can take a variety of different forms and the consequences can be devastating for the individual concerned.

"The banking and finance industry is committed to protecting customers from financial abuse and has updated its Code to better reflect our deeper understanding of victim-survivors' needs. With over 29 signatories and 39 brands committed to implementing the Code, customers can be confident that they will be treated sympathetically and positively in these particularly difficult circumstances. Whilst we recognise that seeking help may be challenging, we would always encourage customers to contact their bank or building society as the first step to getting help and support.

Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs OBE, CEO and Founder of Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA) said:

It is encouraging to see deeper understanding of victim-survivor needs reflected in the 2021 Financial Abuse Code, particularly the new inclusion of debt principles which we called for last year. At SEA we speak to victim-survivors of economic abuse who have been forced to take out loans, mortgages, credit cards, and other credit agreements by an abuser and are then left with the consequences of that debt as they try to rebuild their lives and achieve economic safety. Ultimately, we want to ensure that all forms of debt accrued within the context of domestic abuse are considered coerced, thereby holding perpetrators accountable for their behaviour.

"The updated Code is a further step towards a reality where all financial institutions understand economic abuse, how it is used as a tool of control and how it can stop victim-survivors reaching economic safety and moving forward with their lives. We recognise the commitment shown by UK Finance and are encouraged to see that twenty-nine institutions have already committed to implementing the Code. We urge other financial institutions to do so too.

Elaine Morton, Head of Legal, Conduct Risk and Compliance at the BSA, said: 

Sadly the almost two years of the pandemic has seen an increase in abuse, including financial abuse. Financial abuse can often continue to devastate lives for years, sometimes well after the 'in person' relationship is over. The updating of this Code is both positive and timely following the regulatory and legal improvements we have seen this year. The BSA is delighted to become a signatory to the updated Code.

Rachel Maclean MP, Minister for Safeguarding, said:

The financial sector has a key role to play in tackling financial abuse and a responsibility to support their customers. Which is why it is so crucially important that the industry and other frontline agencies understand the nature of financial abuse, are able to identify it, and provide effective solutions to address it.

"I welcome the updated Financial Abuse Code which will continue supporting our efforts in preventing financial abuse from happening in the first place, and delivering the best possible outcomes for victims when this does occur.

"Tackling all forms of abuse is a priority for the Government, and critical to our wider efforts - supported by our landmark Domestic Abuse Act, forthcoming Domestic Abuse Strategy and longer term action plan - to continue improving the whole of society's response.

Notes to editor

  • For more information please call the UK Finance press office on 020 7416 6750 or email UK Finance is the collective voice for the banking and finance industry. Representing around 300 firms across the industry, we act to enhance competitiveness, support customers and facilitate innovation.
  • The Code of Practice has been updated with input from representatives from charities, victim support groups, trade associations, the FCA and government departments, alongside UK Finance's Domestic, Financial and Economic Abuse Working Group. The current Financial Abuse Code will remain active until 1 January 2023 when it will be superseded by the new 2021 Financial Abuse Code and the following organisations listed below have publicly committed to implementing the 2021 Financial Abuse Code over the next 12 months.
  • Please find the 2021 Financial Abuse Code here.
  • UK Finance's 'Know Your Money' leaflet can be found here. We are currently working with the Money and Pensions Service on new consumer money guidance materials.
  • List of confirmed signatories from UK Finance and the Building Societies Association membership:
    • Atom Bank Plc
    • AIB Group (UK) p.l.c
    • Bank of Ireland UK
    • Bank of Scotland
    • Barclays Bank UK
    • Capital One
    • Charity Bank
    • Clydesdale Bank
    • Co-operative Bank
    • Danske Bank
    • Europe Arab Bank plc
    • First Direct
    • Halifax
    • Hampshire Trust Bank
    • HSBC UK
    • JN Bank UK
    • Julian Hodge Bank Limited
    • Klarna
    • Lloyds Bank
    • M&S
    • Masthaven Bank
    • MBNA
    • Metro Bank PLC
    • Nationwide
    • NatWest
    • Newcastle Building Society
    • Royal Bank of Scotland
    • Santander
    • Skipton Building Society
    • Smile
    • Starling Bank
    • Tandem
    • Tesco Bank
    • Triodos Bank UK Ltd
    • TSB
    • Ulster Bank NI
    • Virgin Money
    • Yorkshire Bank
    • Yorkshire Building Society