The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has set out its planned response to the coronavirus pandemic for the next year.

The regulatory body said it will be focused on ensuring that financial services businesses give people the support they need, that people avoid scams, and that financial services businesses and markets are aware of FCA expectations.

“Alongside HM Treasury and the Bank of England, the FCA has already made a series of interventions at unprecedented speed to protect consumers, firms and the markets,” said a statement. “These have ensured that customers retain access to essential banking services and are able to benefit from flexibility on mortgage and other debt payments.”

Throughout the pandemic, the FCA said it will:

  • protect the most vulnerable – ensuring that they can get the financial services and the help they need
  • tackle scams – helping consumers avoid the scams that spring up as the pandemic develops
  • ensure fair treatment for consumers and small firms – making sure that firms give strong and clear support to customers, recognising challenges that everyone is facing
  • keep markets working well – ensuring that markets remain orderly
  • mitigate firm failures – mitigating the impact on consumers where firms fail in these challenging circumstances

The FCA also set out four priority areas in the medium term, ensuring that customers:

  • can rely on safe and accessible payments to receive their pay or benefits, settle bills and access cash
  • do not get into unaffordable debt and are treated well if they do
  • can make effective investment decisions about their savings, and are not exposed to risky or poor value products
  • are offered fair value products in a digital age and are not at risk of being treated unfairly in the pricing and other terms they receive

Chris Woolard, interim chief executive of the FCA, said: “In a matter of weeks, coronavirus has altered the UK’s financial landscape dramatically. At times like this, it is more important than ever that the FCA leads the way on the protection of consumers, firms and the markets.

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“Our business plan recognises the impact of coronavirus on the financial services industry, while looking forward at how we transform the FCA’s operations in future.”