The LSB welcomes the FCA’s recently published consultation which proposes extending the scope of businesses which can refer complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service to those with an annual turnover of under £6.5 million and annual balance sheet total of under £5 million. It is encouraging to see that 160,000 more businesses could have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service due to this proposal, and we are pleased to see that the FCA is working towards better outcomes for SMEs.
We are also pleased to see references to the importance of voluntary standards and self-regulatory initiatives, and the part that they can play in setting high standards of conduct, specifically referencing the Lending Standards Board and the Standards of Lending Practice, and we look forward to responding to this consultation.
The Standards of Lending Practice for business customers have been effective since July 2017, and have seen increased protections for small businesses through a customer outcomes-based approach. This is supported by a collaborative and proactive oversight strategy. The Standards currently apply to loans, overdrafts, credit cards and charge cards provided to small business customers. We are currently working on broadening the product scope, with asset finance the first new addition in mid-2018.
Our registered firms include retail banks, smaller lenders, monoline credit card providers, debt purchase and debt collection firms. The LSB covers more than 90% of the consumer credit market, and of our registered firms, 20 are engaged in lending to small businesses.
We continue to engage with firms to increase market coverage, and widen the reach of the protections of the Standards of Lending Practice, ensuring that all personal and small business customers receive a fair deal from their lender.