FCA has updated its Covid-19 information for firms in respect of consumers needing to access restricted savings. Research shows that over 20% of consumers have had to access their savings recently, and that several million people may hold their savings only in restricted savings. If they cannot access these savings, they may need to take on additional debt. If they contact firms asking to withdraw funds from restricted accounts, FCA would expect firms to pay due regard to TCF and the need to communicate in a clear, fair and not misleading way with customers, as well as considering the needs of vulnerable customers. FCA stresses this does not mean firms must offer access to all customers, or offer unlimited access to funds in a restricted-access accounts, but they must form their own case-by-case judgments taking into account their customers’ needs with their own obligations, including managing their prudential risk. Firms will, for example, need to consider why the customer needs the funds and whether they have access to other forms of income.
FCA notes that firms are already allowing some access and waiving penalties, which it welcomes.