UK’s Hunt backs regulator to ensure banks pass on better rates to savers

LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Jeremy Hunt gave his backing to the country’s financial regulator FCA to ensure banks are passing on better savings rates to consumers.

“Increased interest rates must also be passed on to savers,” Hunt said on Twitter. “@TheFCA (The Financial Conduct Authority) has my full backing to ensure banks are passing on better rates as they should be.”

Britain’s main banks meet with the FCA on Thursday to discuss how they are passing on rate increases to savers, a person familiar with the meeting said on Tuesday.

Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee on Monday said it had written to Britain’s “Big Four” banks – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and NatWest – asking if they believed their savings rates provided “fair value” and if customer inertia, or reluctance to change accounts, was being exploited.

The FCA was already due to report by the end of July to the committee on how well banks are supporting savers.

Separately, banks have agreed with Hunt to a “charter” on helping people struggling to pay their mortgages as a cost-of-living crisis hits Britain.

Thursday’s meeting is not expected to lead to a “charter” on passing through rate hikes to savers, the person said.

(Reporting by Muvija M and Huw Jones; editing by William James and Sachin Ravikumar)