It was a seriously political day for me yesterday: before going to meet Ed Balls (see Meeting Ed Balls on Financial Education blog) I was at number 10 for a second time (see my a trip to Number 10 blog) to have a quick meet with the PM’s special adviser on consumer issues.
In many ways this was more of a catch up meeting than a specific agenda and we talked through a few subjects, the main being:
- Bank Charges
- Credit Card Changes
- 50 words
In the political world, many parties see charges as the key issue. The PM has said he wants fair charges, which is a euphemism for bringing the cost down and making them per day not per transaction. Both of those are good news and I suspect we’ll see movement on that quite soon. The premise is if the banks don’t fall into line he’ll go tough and try and bring in legislation.
The main point of discussion was where we’re going now with bank charges reclaiming. I explained that we’re still in the midst of working on the new guide, which will focus on taking the ombudsman route. I hope the fact bank charges reclaiming hasn’t been totally kicked to death may add a touch more pressure to the banks when they’re negotiating on future charges.
There’s a big consultation ending next week on credit card charges which may do some good (see the credit card overhaul deadline). We’re going to be submitting an MSE response to it and I will put that on the site when it’s done.
Of course the issue here as with many things is what can be done pre-election and what would need legislation. Actually quite a few of the less radical ideas could be implemented by agreement – in a similar way to the credit card summit, which the powers to reject credit card rate hikes derived from.
While there, I wanted to hand over a draft of the 50 words manifesto which we’re hoping to launch next week (see the 50 words rule changes forums suggestion). Hopefully the Prime Minister will take a look at it and give it some thought.
My main perception after the meeting is that consumer finance is quite high up the political agenda at the moment; it’ll be interesting to see if it becomes a battleground in the election.
P.S. Reading this blog back made me think how much things have changed since my first ever April 2005 blog