UK Finance and Surviving Economic Abuse join to create new information for consumers

UK Finance, the collective voice for the banking and finance industry, has collaborated with SEA to update their ‘It’s Your Money’ leaflet – a clear and helpful resource for financial service customers who may be experiencing economic abuse.

The leaflet has been shared with all the signatories of UK Finance’s Financial Abuse Code and will provide a simple and clear way for banks and building societies to communicate how they can help victim-survivors. Firms who have signed up to the 2021 Financial Abuse Code will share the leaflet as part of their commitment to improving outcomes for customers experiencing economic abuse.

‘It’s Your Money’ includes examples of economic abuse based on what victim-survivors have told us.

The leaflet contains information on

  • What economic, including financial abuse involves
  • Who might be at risk
  • What your bank or building society can do to help you stay safe while you’re still with an abuser
  • What your bank and building society can do to help you regain financial independence and economic stability after separating from an abuser
  • Information about further help and practical support

Now more than ever, victim-survivors of economic abuse need to know how to access the support that’s available to them. The pandemic had a devastating impact on victim-survivors of domestic abuse, and the cost-of-living increases are increasing the risk of harm.

Research recently published by SEA in partnership with Money Advice Plus has found that the average amount of total debt owed now sits at £20,000. This is six times more than it was in 2020. In addition to this, the number of victim-survivors who do not have access to £100 at short notice has drastically increased.

Economic safety is intrinsically linked to physical safety, and we know that financial instability is a significant reason why victim-survivors cannot leave an abuser – or may be the reason why they return. We’re hearing an increasing number of victim-survivors saying the cost of living has enabled the abuser to increase their control over them or prevent them from leaving.

We encourage firms to share this information widely so that victim-survivors know they are not alone during this challenging time, and support is available to them.

Fiona Turner, Head of Vulnerability, Financial Inclusion and Capability said,

“UK Finance and its members recognise that anyone can become a victim of financial and economic abuse and the consequences can be devastating for the individual and their families.

“We are committed to supporting impacted customers to regain control of their money and establish financial independence and many of our members have demonstrated this commitment by becoming signatories to the 2021 Financial Abuse Code. Seeking help is often the first step victim-survivors take to regaining control of their financial affairs and our members have developed a diverse range of innovative solutions enabling them to tailor their approach to the unique needs of the individual and make a real difference to the victim-survivor’s financial wellbeing.

“But it is no good having fantastic support mechanisms if they are the best-kept secret, so I am delighted that we have been able to partner with Surviving Economic Abuse to update the consumer-facing It’s Your Money leaflet.  This leaflet will be made available by all Code signatories and in addition to containing valuable information on the support that is available, it provides victim-survivors with the reassurance that when they decide the time is right to seek support – they will be treated in a sensitive, compassionate manner which makes them feel safe and believed.”

Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs OBE, founder and CEO of Surviving Economic Abuse said,

“We’re so pleased to have worked with UK Finance on this new information and are encouraged that firms are taking proactive and innovative steps to support victim-survivors of economic abuse during these challenging times.

“Banks and building societies have an unrivalled ability to reach victim-survivors of economic abuse. We’ve seen increased public awareness of economic abuse via media campaigns led by financial service providers such as NatWest Group, The Cooperative Bank and HSBC, as well as the positive impact of specialist teams set up by firms such as Lloyds Banking Group, helping them better support customers. Innovations such as the ‘Share With Us’ function used by Monzo enables customers to disclose abuse safely and confidentially. And, this week, TSB has committed to providing a much-needed emergency flee fund for their customers and has joined HSBC in creating safe spaces in branch. The impact of such initiatives on the lives of victim-survivors should not be underestimated and SEA is proud to work alongside firms working hard to improve outcomes for all victim-survivors.”

You can read ‘It’s Your Money’ here