That of course leaves only one UK-wide major party leader yet to lay out his stance, so as promised, I have written a letter to Gordon Brown MP asking for his view.
The letter is below, and will be simultaneously be emailed to Gordon Brown’s office after being posted here.
Dear Prime Minister,
You recently proposed the idea of a consumer advocate – someone who would fight over issues such as unfair bank charges.
We were delighted to see you take interest in this crucial issue, especially as the ‘Bank Charges Consumer Charter’ posted on the number 10 website in Summer 2007 held the undistinguished honour of being the largest ever petition you chose not to respond to.
Specifically I want to ask you to support an act of real political bravery… these unlawful bank charges were taken from peoples’ accounts without asking. No other companies have the power to take cash in this way; if an energy supplier has a dispute with you, it needs to go to court to get the money.
So surely once it’s finally legally decided that they’re unfair, the only right decision is for everyone who’s had bank charges to automatically be paid the money back without needing to ask for it?
This is a crucial issue, from my website alone over six million free template letters have been downloaded, over a million people are currently on hold, and many millions more eligible. Yet the need to apply for a refund favours those with broadband access, and who are financially literate.
The worry is that many who are most in need – the enormous numbers with financial phobias, mental health issues, or literacy or numeracy problems – won’t be able to reclaim. The banks have been blind to their issues and charged them regardless and we must help people get their unlawfully taken money back.
We’ve already received and published replies from the Tories and Lib Dems on this. Nick Clegg has pledged support for automatic payback, David Cameron that payback must be swift and he will look at automatic payback.
With the test case coming to an end surely it’s time we knew your plans.
Of course any response will be published on the site and in the weekly e-mail.
Update: The PM replied to my letter on 22nd September. See news story