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MPs accuse Treasury of failing on mutuals

MPs are pressing the Government to set out how it intends to meet the coalition agreement’s commitment to “promote mutuals and foster diversity” in financial services.

In July, the all-party Parliamentary group for building societies and financial mutuals published a report calling on the Government to say how it will deliver on the pledge.

Almost nine months later, APPG chair Jonathan Evans says the Treasury has so far failed to act, despite committing to make a “positive response” to the report.

An early-day motion posted last week, calling on the Government to “outline the practical steps it will take” to meet the coalition agreement’s commitment, had been signed by 35 MPs at the end of last week.

Evans says a minster should be given responsibility for considering the impact of legislation and regulation on financial mutuals. Speaking to Money Marketing, he says: “We were told the Treasury was looking through the report with a view to making a positive response. That seems to be as far as it has gone.

“If you look at the Treasury ministers of a Government that is committed to promote mutuals, the one who talks about mutuals the most is Mark Hoban. And what does he say? ’My hands are clean, I am completely neutral between plcs and mutuals’.”

Fellow APPG member and Treasury select committee member Andy Love wants the Financial Conduct Authority to report annually on developments in the mutual sector and plans to table an amendment to the Financial Services Bill to that end.

He says: “It would mean we do not wake up one morning and realise the mutual sector has disappeared.

“The coalition pledge was made and people expect the Government to promote mutuals, yet Mark Hoban wants to remain neutral.”

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