Consumer bodies given more powers to expose damaging practices

The government has confirmed the names of the first consumer representative bodies to be given ‘super-complainant’ status for the financial services sector.

Which?, Consumer Council Northern Ireland, Citizens Advice and The Federation of Small Businesses will have the power to present complaints to the FCA if they believe there are practices in the financial services sector that are ‘significantly damaging the interests of consumers’.

Once a complaint has been made, the FCA must respond within 90 days.

The procedure was brought in by the Financial Services Act in 2012.

Previously, super-complaints could only be made to the Office of Fair Trading, which does not have the same powers as the FCA in relation to financial services.

Now, the FCA can use its own powers to tackle any underlying issues identified as a result of a super-complaint such as restricting the businesses from carrying out certain activities, making new rules to require firms to do things differently or taking enforcement action.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Sajid Javid said: “Super-complainants have an important role, and coupled with the strong remit of the Financial Conduct Authority to protect consumers, these measures are a significant step in our drive to tackle bad practice in the financial services sector ever more rapidly and robustly.”