Banks summoned by financial watchdog for talks over savings rates

"It's madness," one bank customer tells ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi, as banks have had to explain why interest rates are not in line with the rising cost of mortgages

Major banks have been summoned to a meeting with the financial watchdog to discuss concerns surrounding interest rates for savers lagging behind the rising cost of mortgages.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) expects chief executives from HSBC, NatWest, Lloyds and Barclays to attend on Thursday amid allegations of “blatant profiteering”.

MPs on the Treasury Committee have been stepping up their campaign to increase saving rates for lenders, which are failing to keep pace with soaring mortgage interest rates.

They wrote to the four biggest lenders demanding answers to their concerns that saving rates are “too low” in the light of the base interest rate reaching 5%.

The Treasury Committee has written to the bosses of major banks to ask if they believe all their savings rates provide “fair value” to customers and whether customer inertia is being exploited.

Dame Andrea Leadsom, the former Cabinet minister who sits on the committee, said that “it’s quite clear they have failed to pass on the rise in interest rates to savers”.

Colleague Dame Angela Eagle added: “This blatant profiteering has been shocking, and it’s clear to me this behaviour is miles away from the incoming requirement for firms to treat their customers fairly and with respect.”

From the end of July, a new consumer duty will be introduced to force financial firms to put consumers at the heart of what they do.

Harriett Baldwin, chair of the Treasury Committee, said: “With interest rates on the rise and our constituents feeling squeezed by rising prices, it is only right that the UK’s biggest banks step up their measly easy access savings rates. The time for action is now.”

Treasury Committee member Dame Andrea Leadsom said: “While banks play a vital role in our society, stimulating economic growth and supporting thriving businesses, it’s quite clear they have failed to pass on the rise in interest rates to savers.”

Dame Angela Eagle, another member of the committee, said: “In the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, the high street banks are squeezing higher profits from their loyal savings customers.”

The committee has written to the bosses of Lloyds Banking Group, NatWest, HSBC UK and Barlcays.

The Bank of England base rate is sitting at 5%, following 13 hikes in a row.

According to financial information website, the average easy access savings rate on the market is at 2.43%. The average easy access Isa rate on offer is 2.55%.

Savers looking for a one-year fixed-rate account can get 4.82% typically.

Many banks have been hiking their savings rates in recent weeks, although some mortgage rates are sitting at a significantly higher level than some rates being offered on savings.

The average two-year homeowner mortgage rate on the market is 6.42% and the average five-year fixed-rate mortgage is 5.97%.

The Treasury Committee has also written separately to the FCA asking if banks have changed their savings rates as a result of the regulator challenging them.

The FCA will oversee the new consumer duty when it comes into force.

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