A cross-party group of MPs is calling for the break-up of major high street banks, which they say are stifling competition and exploiting vulnerable customers.
The call is part of recommendations put forward by the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) for challenger banks and building societies after a two-year inquiry into competition across the UK banking sector. Together, six UK lenders – including HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds, NatWest, Santander and Nationwide building society – hold about 87% of the retail banking market, according to Reuters data from 2018.
The APPG report, which gathered evidence from industry associations, university professors, and challenger banks such as Monzo, concluded that the lack of competition meant big banks were able to “exploit more vulnerable customers at the expense of the better off”. It also found customers faced a loyalty penalty, where banks charged higher prices knowing that customers were unlikely to search for better deals.
New research has revealed that nearly half of SMEs who import goods and services from the EU and two out of five SMEs who export to the EU have made no preparations for Brexit.
Tim Boag, group managing director, business finance, Aldermore said: “2020 has been an extremely difficult year for SMEs, as many have been profoundly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. With the Brexit transition period coming to an end on 31 December, businesses who trade with the EU now face a new set challenges, particularly if there is no-deal. Tariffs could be introduced on many imports and exports, which will have an impact on costs for businesses, and even if a trade deal is agreed there’s still likely to be significant changes to prepare for, such as additional checks and documentation on goods as required by both the UK and the EU.
A new tech regulator will work to limit the power of Google, Facebook and other tech platforms, the government has announced, in an effort to ensure a level playing field for smaller competitors and a fair market for consumers.
Under the plans, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will gain a dedicated Digital Markets Unit, empowered to write and enforce a new code of practice on technology companies which will set out the limits of acceptable behaviour.
The code will only affect those companies deemed to have “strategic market status”, though it has not yet been decided what that means, nor what restrictions will be imposed.
The business secretary, Alok Sharma, said: “Digital platforms like Google and Facebook make a significant contribution to our economy and play a massive role in our day-to-day lives – whether it’s helping us stay in touch with our loved ones, share creative content or