I’m writing to ask you to sign and support Amendments 1, 2 and 31 of the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill.
With bank branches shutting their doors around the country, I am concerned that some communities will have less access to affordable credit, with high cost credit providers, such as payday lenders, moving in to the fill the gaps.
These amendments would require banks and other lenders to publish anonymised data on where and who they lend to, and at what rates. Such data can be used to identify gaps in provision, so called ‘credit deserts’, and when banks can’t or won’t plug these gaps, they can be required to support credit unions or community banks who can.
These amendments are based on the US Community Reinvestment Act, which has been successful in highlighting areas where communities are not well served by traditional lenders, and also ensuring that the big banks do much more to support credit unions and community banks. For example, Santander’s US arm recently announced it will increase its community lending by 50% to $11billion, which would not have happened without this legislation. No such commitment is being made in Britain.
I believe this data is an essential tool to assess the impact of bank branch closures, ensuring that communities that lose physical bank branches still have access to affordable credit, and to tackle financial inclusion. A voluntary data disclosure scheme was introduced in 2013, but it does not cover all lenders, and so far effective analysis of the data has been difficult because of the format in which the data has been published.
I hope you can support these amendments and look forward to hearing from you.