UK’s Consumer Duty Policy and Inclusive Practices

Introduction to Consumer Duty Policy

Starting from July 31st 2023, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) introduces the Consumer Duty policy, aimed at raising the bar for consumer protection within financial services. This policy places a strong emphasis on firms prioritising the needs of their customers and adhering to higher standards of accountability. It applies to all firms involved in selling products and services to retail customers, and is a significant step towards transparent and customer-centric practices within the financial industry.

Firms’ Responsibilities and Compliance

Under the Consumer Duty policy, firms are required to implement its principles to both new and existing products and services. The policy extends its consideration to “consumers in vulnerable circumstances,” emphasizing accessibility and inclusivity. It is crucial that all customers, regardless of their circumstances, have access to products, services, and support tailored to their specific requirements. The policy identifies specific outcomes, including ‘consumer understanding,’ focused on clear communication to ensure customers understand their financial interactions. Moreover, ‘consumer support’ provides effective and barrier-free support channels for all website users.

Firms are expected to adhere to the Consumer Duty outcomes, providing evidence of compliance and actively addressing any identified issues. The policy encourages firms to extend their focus beyond individual product lines, integrating positive consumer impact into their business models. Compliance with the policy is a collective responsibility that should be established across the entire firm, fostering a culture of ongoing adherence to accessibility.

Integration with Equality Act

In addition to the Consumer Duty policy, firms must also consider their legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010. This Act mandates that businesses should anticipate the needs of disabled customers and provide reasonable adjustments to facilitate the use of their services. This may involve providing information in accessible formats such as braille or audio for visually impaired customers.

Make Your Website Accessible

To learn more about compliance with the Consumer Duty policy and Equality Act 2010, consider reaching out to Midlands Online. We have audited websites for 10+ years in the public and private sectors to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Our manual testing involves assistive technology such as Dragon, ChromeVOX and ZoomText to ensure an accessible and inclusive website experience. We also utilise a semi-automated test suite which offers ‘best practice’ advice to maintain accessibility standards when new content is created. Contact us here to explore how we can assist you in delivering exceptional User Experience while meeting regulatory requirements.

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