What we heard
This initiative sits within our Financial Awareness activities.
Financial vulnerability can occur at any time, it can be fixed or fluid and many bank customers can find themselves in a vulnerable position for a range of reasons:
- A change in personal circumstances; bereavement, divorce or separation, the breakdown of family relationships or supports
- Issues with physical and mental health and wellbeing, including cognitive impairments, the diagnosis or onset of a serious or life-altering illness
- A disability, which requires additional or alternative supports
- Personal financial difficulties, including arrears and mounting debt
- Marginalised groups, who may find it difficult to access financial services.
What we did
In light of the COVID-19 crisis, the IBCB has highlighted the needs of vulnerable customers. Some, who experienced vulnerability prior to COVID-19 have faced an exacerbation of their circumstances and a significant number of bank customers have experienced vulnerability because of the impact of the virus on their health or financial circumstances. The IBCB has highlighted those steps taken by member banks and the banking industry to provide systemic payment breaks initially, followed by a range of solutions to customers experiencing difficulty in making loan repayments. We have also highlighted positive steps taken by member banks to provide additional supports for customers in a vulnerable position, with specific times available for branch banking, dedicated phone lines, companion cards and other supports. In addition, we have promoted campaigns aimed at reducing financial abuse and fraud.