The crisis engulfing the financial markets has been described by some commentators as representing the greatest risk to the financial system since the First World War. No one knows for certain how the crisis will play out over time but it is clear that it will have serious consequences for consumers and wider society.
The Financial Inclusion Centre and Consumer Focus organised a roundtable on 17th October 2008 with a wide range of influential consumer and public interest organisations including the TUC, Which?, Unite, Citizens Advice, Age Concern, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, ABCUL, CDFA, Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS), and New Policy Institute to map out what the consequences might be for consumers and society, and to attempt to generate a coherent response from ‘civil society’ organisations to the crisis.
The aim of the roundtable was to: identify the immediate and long term impact of current crisis on people; understand the causes of the crisis; discuss policy responses to protect people and reform the financial system; understand how individual organisations are planning to respond.
Four main priorities emerged from the roundtable (see note for more detail):
- The need for immediate consumer protection measures to protect vulnerable consumers most at risk from the financial crisis
- Fundamental reform of the financial system (including regulatory reform)
- Alternative solutions to meet core financial needs of consumers excluded from markets
- Promoting a responsible, efficient, and ‘democratic’ financial system (including the role of institutional investors).