Rachel Reeves

Member of Parliament for Leeds West

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Last April, I tried to introduce a new law to cap rip-off overdraft fees in the same way as charges on payday loans are limited. Yet, more than a year later, lenders are still getting away with charging exorbitant fees.

As new research this week from Which? reveals, charges on unarranged overdrafts are currently up to 7.5 times higher than payday loans. Borrowers can be charged an eye-watering £179 to borrow £100 over 30 days. The charges can be even higher because they apply to monthly billing periods and not the number of days. This means that customers face higher charges if their unarranged overdraft runs across two monthly billing periods.

The introduction of a Maximum Monthly Charge set by the banks has clearly done very little to improve the situation. Which? found that 13 of 16 banks it investigated still charged more than a payday loan company for borrowing £100 over 30 days. If bank fees were capped in a similar way to those of payday lenders, the cost of borrowing £100 for the 30 days on unarranged overdrafts would be £24.

These unjustifiable charges add to the problems faced by people who are already struggling financially. Last year, a report by debt charity StepChange found nearly 50 per cent of its clients had overdrafts, averaging £1,722. The charity estimated 2.8 million people used their overdrafts to cover the cost of essentials such as food and utility bills.

In stark contrast to the debts racked up by their customers, banks make more than £1 billion a year from the sky-high fees they slap on unarranged overdrafts. Regulators at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) promised to tackle this obvious injustice, but has dragged its feet when action is urgently needed.

In reality, there is little different between an unarranged and an arranged overdraft. But the distinction allows banks to cynically charge a premium for unarranged ones, pushing vulnerable customers into a vicious cycle of debt instead of helping them get out of financial trouble.

Two years ago, the Competition and Markets Authority called unarranged overdrafts the “single biggest issue in the personal banking market” yet failed to take meaningful action.

Instead, they passed the buck to the FCA which pledged to tackle the problem. But it has delayed consulting on possible solutions.

This is why 84 MPs, with Which?, have written to the FCA to urge it to crack down on these pernicious charges. We are also calling on the Government to introduce legislation to give the FCA a mandate to get on with this.

Banks are less obvious villains than unscrupulous payday lenders and vulnerable customers are the least likely to switch banks, even when they could possibly get a better deal. The problem is so severe that payday lenders now offer better value than some banks because of the high fees on unarranged overdrafts. This must stop.

The cap on payday loans has shown that action by the government and the regulator can work. So, what are they waiting for? It is time to cap the rip-off fees on unarranged overdrafts.

Rachel Reeves is chairwoman of the business select committee

 

You can find the original article here.

Exorbitant fees mean banks are charging more than payday loan lenders

Last April, I tried to introduce a new law to cap rip-off overdraft fees in the same way as charges on payday loans are limited. Yet, more than a year...

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As of this month, I have become a Breast Cancer Now MP Ambassador, in order to be better able to support my constituents who are suffering with the condition.

Breast Cancer Now is the UK’s largest breast cancer charity, and they believe that if we all act now, by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer will live and live well. Currently, Breast Cancer Now are funding almost £24 million worth of ground-breaking research projects, supporting nearly 450 of the world’s brightest researchers at 29 institutions across the UK and Ireland.
I will be attending the drop-in research fair in Parliament on 4th July from 9:30-11:30am in the Attlee Suite to meet Breast Cancer Now scientists from across the UK. One in eight women in the UK will develop breast cancer, and 35,000 women are currently living with incurable secondary breast cancer, making this vital work that I am proud to be part of.

Becoming a Breast Cancer Now Ambassador MP

As of this month, I have become a Breast Cancer Now MP Ambassador, in order to be better able to support my constituents who are suffering with the condition.

I am incredibly pleased that after so much hard work across all four wards, and the rest of the city, the campaign to #KeepLeedsLabour was a resounding success on 3 May!

 

Our fantastic candidates received so much support from volunteers across Armley, Bramley, Kirkstall and Farnley & Wortley and it is thanks to your help, Leeds West can proudly declare we now have ten Labour Councillors. 

I want to extend my warmest thanks to all those who went above and beyond to help throughout this campaign, from phonebanks, leafleting and doorknocking to making sure there was a healthy supply of tea and cake. It is vitally important that now, more than ever, we stand against Government austerity and ensure Leeds City Council can continue to protect our local services, and I am confident that Leeds Labour Councillors will ensure this.

Finally, I want to welcome our wonderful new Councillors; Hannah Bithell, who has taken over the exceptional legacy of Lucinda Yeadon in Kirkstall; Peter Carlill, who successfully ousted a Conservative councillor in Calverley & Farsley; and Matt Gibson, who gained a seat from the Green Party in Farnley & Wortley and who, alongside fellow candidates Andrea McKenna and Andy Parnham showed the Greens that Labour is well and truly a force to be reckoned with.

Thank you again to every single member and volunteer who dedicated their time and effort to the campaign, and to all who voted Labour. Bring on 2019!

Leeds Local Elections 2018

I am incredibly pleased that after so much hard work across all four wards, and the rest of the city, the campaign to #KeepLeedsLabour was a resounding success on 3...

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