The City watchdog has fined Barclays £26m for historic “poor treatment” of customers who suffered financial hardship after being offered credit.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) pointed to failed customer contact policies between 2014 and 2018 at Barclays Bank UK Plc and its Clydesdale Financial Services arm.
It said Barclays had pro-actively handed redress to more than 1.5 million individual and business customers to date, paying over £273m in total since 2017.
The FCA found the company failed to act with due skill, care and diligence when customers fell into arrears and lacked understanding over the financial and other circumstances leading it to offer unaffordable, or unsustainable, forbearance solutions.
The regulator said it took the redress programme into account when setting its fine, which would have been higher if the bank had challenged its findings and not settled the matter.
Mark Steward, the FCA’s executive director of enforcement and market oversight, said: “Consumers should feel reassured that their lender will work with them to help resolve any financial difficulties, whereas Barclays’ poor treatment of its customers risked making these difficulties worse.
“Firms must treat consumer credit customers fairly, including when they find themselves in arrears.”
He added: “While this case predates the pandemic, this message is especially important as the impact of coronavirus continues to affect household incomes and budgets.”
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The bank responded: “Barclays is a responsible lender and we strive to achieve good outcomes for our customers.
“Since the issue was first identified, we have implemented a number of changes to our customer journeys, systems, processes and colleague training to correct it, and the vast majority of customers who were impacted have already been contacted.
“We would like to apologise to those customers for not providing the level of service we should have.” – SkyNewsBiz