General election 2024: what do banks want to see the next government do?

UK Finance, which represents the UK banking sector, has published its general election wish list. It includes ideas for how to improve personal finance and crack down on fraud.

People walk over the Thames with the City of London in the background before the UK general election (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Banking trade body UK Finance has announced the key pledges it wants to see included in general election manifestos.

Arguing that the sector is a “global success story”, its chief executive David Postings said the organisation’s main asks would “help build a better society for all” after the election. It represents the views of 300 firms, including high street banks and financial services providers.

It comes as the major parties have started to draw their key battle lines ahead of the 4 July national poll. The Labour Party has been attempting to build support among the business community, while the Conservative Party has been attempting to win over older voters with its triple lock plus pledge and plans to reintroduce national service.

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So, what do the banks want from the 2024 general election? We’ve rounded up their manifesto wish list.

General election winner should improve financial education, banks say

Among its main asks of the next government, UK Finance has outlined the policies it believes are needed to help support people and businesses. It says pledges that will help people manage and grow their money, get onto the housing ladder and get out of financial difficulty are needed.

The trade body said financial education should be a big priority for whoever occupies 10 Downing Street from 5 July. It added that such a move would improve household financial resilience, by giving people the “basic tools and knowledge” to “effectively” manage their money. It follows a report by the Education Select Committee which called for improvements to be made in the provision of financial education in schools.

UK Finance also said it wants to see measures that would boost the returns its members’ customers can gain. It has called for personal savings allowances to be reviewed so that savers can “build up a cushion” against any future cost of living crises. Of course, any growth in deposits would also benefit bank balance sheets.

Other ideas on its wish list include greater encouragement for people to become investors. The trade body wants to see UK households catch up on countries, like the USA and France, when it comes to the proportion of their financial assets that are tied up in equity. It said improvements to the tax regime would help in this regard, whilst also helping to grow the economy.

UK Finance: ‘urgent planning reform needed after the election’

In terms of the measures UK Finance thinks could boost the property market, it said the next government should announce a package of measures “early in the next Parliament” to expand housing supply. Chief among them would be reforms to the planning system, which would “unlock more housebuilding”, it said. The construction of new homes plummeted at the end of 2023, recent figures have shown.

Stamp duty reform is also a priority, the trade body said. It said lowering upfront buying costs would incentivise housing market activity and would free up buyers to improve the energy performance of their home - something it said could also be incentivised by growing homeowner access to financing. The organisation also urged a future government to allow buy-to-let lenders to access the Private Rented Sector Database, which contains information on landlords. Doing so would help to “raise standards” in the lettings sector.

Meanwhile, in terms of helping people to manage financial difficulty, UK Finance said its members should not be the only ones footing the bill for free debt management advice. It wants to see energy and utility companies forced to contribute so that the existing provision can be expanded. The trade body also said it wants greater regulation of the personal debt advice market - an area that’s not currently under the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA’s) remit.

Banks call for scam crackdown

Alongside its calls for more support for individuals, UK Finance also urged the next government to bring in tougher action on fraud. In its annual scams report, which was published on 22 May, it found fraudsters stole £2.3m a day from British consumers in 2023.

To stop the yearly £1bn flow of ill-gotten gains, the trade body said online platforms, internet service providers and telecoms firms should be compelled by a new Fraud and Scams Bill to work harder to stop fraud “at source”. These firms should also have to contribute to the cost of fraud reimbursement, and should be brought under the scope of the Economic Crime Levy, which helps to fund anti-fraud schemes. Banks currently foot the bill if their customers fall victim to scams.

UK Finance also said it wants to see Companies House reformed so that the UK is better protected from economic crime. It also wants to see tax incentives to help businesses invest in bolstering their defences against cyber attacks.

In terms of its broader aims for the victor of the next general election, the trade body wants to see Jeremy Hunt’s Edinburgh Reforms expanded through the appointment of a government competitiveness champion. These reforms unwound some of the regulations that were introduced in the wake of the 2008 Financial Crisis.

The champion would review and tackle the “burden” of regulations which “inhibit growth”. Doing so would allow the UK banking sector to compete internationally, and attract more banks to the UK, the trade body claimed.

Henry Sandercock
Staff Writer

Henry Sandercock has spent more than eight years as a journalist covering a wide variety of beats. Having studied for an MA in journalism at the University of Kent, he started his career in the garden of England as a reporter for local TV channel KMTV. 

Henry then worked at the BBC for three years as a radio producer - mostly on BBC Radio 2 with Jeremy Vine, but also on major BBC Radio 4 programmes like The World at One, PM and Broadcasting House. Switching to print media, he covered fresh foods for respected magazine The Grocer for two years. 

After moving to - a national news site run by the publisher of The Scotsman and Yorkshire Post - Henry began reporting on the cost of living crisis, becoming the title’s money editor in early 2023. He covered everything from the energy crisis to scams, and inflation. You will now find him writing for MoneyWeek. Away from work, Henry lives in Edinburgh with his partner and their whippet Whisper.