The Co-operative Bank and Refuge welcome the launch of a new Financial Abuse Code of Practice for the UK financial services industry

  • The Co-operative Bank and Refuge campaign ‘My Money, My Life’ shone a spotlight on financial abuse and called for all banks to take action to better support victims
  • The launch of the Code of Practice is a success of the ‘My Money, My Life’ campaign and will better help victims get the support they need from their financial service provider

The Co-operative Bank and leading domestic violence charity Refuge welcome the Financial Abuse Code of Practice launched today (10 October 2018) by UK Finance and are proud that their joint campaign ‘My Money, My Life’ has highlighted the scale of the issue of economic abuse and that their call for action from the financial services sector has now resulted in the launch of this new initiative today.

The My Money, My Life campaign launched in 2015 and for the first time shone a spotlight on the scale of the issue of economic abuse in the UK and the difficulties of victims who needed help and support from their bank or building society. The accompanying report ‘Money Matters’ remains one of the largest studies into the prevalence and impact of economic abuse in the UK.

The report found that:

  • 18% of all adults in the UK have been a victim of financial abuse in a current or past relationship
  • 30% of those surveyed stated they knew somebody who has experienced financial abuse in a relationship
  • Victims span gender, age and income groups; however, it is notable that 60 per cent of all cases are reported by women
  • Financial abuse rarely occurs in isolation; 82 per cent have also been victim of other forms of abuse in their relationship
  • 34% of all victims who have experienced financial abuse have kept silent and told no-one of their abuse

Since the launch of the ‘My Money, My Life’ campaign, the Government has, for the first time, proposed to include economic abuse in the definition of domestic abuse in the forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill. Recognising economic abuse as a form of domestic abuse in legislation will have a significant effect on raising awareness and understanding of this form of abuse.

Refuge’s experience supporting more than 6,000 survivors a day has shown that economic abuse is almost always perpetrated alongside other forms of abuse as part of a pattern of coercive control and can have devastating consequences.

Andrew Bester CEO of The Co-operative Bank said: “This is an issue that we and our customers care strongly about – our ‘My Money, My Life’ campaign in partnership with Refuge; which began in 2015, shone a light on the issue of financial abuse and what banks could do better to help and support those who were impacted by this form of coercive control.

“This new Code of Practice represents an important step forward and is a result of the finance industry working together to do our best to support vulnerable customers who have been the victim of financial abuse.

“We’re proud to have spearheaded this collective action and will continue to work closely with UK Finance member companies, and other financial services providers, to ensure that financial abuse is quickly identified and that the right advice and support is then given to those who are often in very vulnerable situations.”

Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of Refuge said: “I am hugely proud that the original Refuge and Co-operative Bank research on economic abuse has provided the catalyst for this new Code of Practice.

“Over the last 12 months alone, Refuge staff have worked with over 1,500 survivors of economic abuse.  Women we supported described how abusers had complete control over household finances, forcing them to take out overdrafts and loans in their names which they then spent, or preventing them from working and earning money.

“The consequences of economic abuse are devastating. Over a fifth of Refuge service users said that as a result, they were unable to buy food for themselves and their children, and over a third were unable to buy non-food essentials, 27 per cent had problems with debt and over 10 per cent had been made homeless.

“Whilst there is much more to be done to prevent economic abuse and support survivors, the UK Finance Code of Practice is a huge step forward in recognising both the immense scale of economic abuse in the UK and the vital role the banking sector can play in protecting victims.”

Find out more about the ‘My money, my life’ campaign

For further information and press queries to Refuge, please email or ring 0207 395 7731 (out of hours and weekend enquiries: 07970 894240)