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THE CO-OPERATIVE BANK’S ‘MY MONEY, MY LIFE’ CAMPAIGN RECEIVES INDUSTRY BACKING FOR CODE OF PRACTICE

  • “My Money, My Life” campaign, launched in partnership with Refuge, national domestic violence charity, called for industry-wide agreement to support people who experience financial abuse in their relationships
  • One in five UK adults is the victim of financial abuse in relationships
  • A third of financial abuse victims suffer in silence, telling no-one

The Co-operative Bank’s ‘My money, my life’ campaign – launched in partnership with the national domestic violence charity Refuge to shine a light on the issue of financial abuse in relationships - has received industry backing to explore a Code of Practice. The Code would provide a framework for banks to support victims of financial abuse.

In December 2015, the Co-op Bank and, Refuge joined forces to call for banking industry agreement to support people who experience financial abuse in their relationships.

The campaign launch research found nearly one in five British adults - 9.2m people1 - said they have experienced financial abuse in an intimate partner relationship. Victims span gender, age and income groups; however, 60 per cent of all cases are reported by women.

Since launch, the issue has received national media attention, partly due to the recent storyline in BBC Radio 4’s The Archers involving domestic abuse, which also included financial abuse.

The Co-op Bank has collaborated with the British Banker’s Association (BBA) and the wider industry as part of their ongoing project around vulnerable customers. The BBA has agreed to explore the introduction of a Code of Practice, which banks will use when supporting vulnerable customers, including those who are subject to financial abuse, with the intention of it being introduced in 2017.

Niall Booker, CEO said: “The Co-op Bank and Refuge launched the ‘My money, my life’ campaign in order to highlight the true extent of financial abuse in relationships in the UK. While other types of domestic abuse were well-documented, the impact of this kind of coercive control where money is used as a weapon within an intimate relationship was not yet fully understood.  Two-thirds of consumers who took part in the study thought this was an issue that banks should raise awareness of and that is exactly why we joined forces with Refuge to launch the campaign.

“We are delighted that the issue has received wide-spread attention over the past ten months’ including it being discussed in Parliament. The recent The Archers storyline has also helped underline the importance of raising awareness of this issue. We are pleased that the industry has agreed to explore the introduction of a Code of Practice that will ensure a consistency of approach to dealing with vulnerable customers who are the victims of financial abuse, and provide reassurance to customers that they will be understood and treated with the empathy they deserve.”

The campaign has provided thought leadership on this issue. As well as gaining agreement from the BBA to explore the introduction of a Code of Practice, the campaign was recognised in the Government’s Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy 2016-20 launch in March, and also in subsequent work by the Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB).

In addition, the Co-op Bank has:

  • Undertaken Bank-wide mandatory training for over 3,000 staff members  dealing with vulnerable customers, including those suffering from financial abuse in relationships;
  • Published an online financial guide with Refuge to help victims of Financial Abuse which is downloadable from the Bank and Refuge websites.  The guide has been distributed across Refuge’s frontline services - click here
  • Changed internal Bank processes to ensure that joint bank accounts can be frozen quickly and we are now looking at how we can ensure that individual bank accounts are treated separately, with safeguards in place to guard against further abuse taking place;
  • Trialled opening bank accounts for domestic abuse victims who are in refuges, in order to help them gain some financial control;
  • Encouraged staff to talk in confidence about their own personal experiences of domestic violence using our confidential employee assistance programme which is available 24 hours a day;
  • Added Refuge as a charity partner to our Everyday Rewards Current Account – which gives customers the opportunity to donate their monthly rewards to charity which has already raised over £2,000;
  • Donated an additional £18,000 to Refuge to support online dissemination and sharing of the guide and the campaign;
  • Worked with Refuge ambassador Lauren Laverne to produce a powerful video highlighting the impact of financial abuse in relationships;
  • Raised awareness of financial abuse via an ongoing media and social media campaign #mymoneymylife

Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, said: “Refuge is delighted that its ‘My money, my life’ campaign with The Co-operative Bank is having such a positive impact on banking practice.

“Our research has shown that financial abuse is shockingly prevalent in this country. Domestic violence is not just about black eyes and broken bones; it is about power and control. Financial abuse often forms part of a pattern of control, and can take many different forms. For example, men often force women to hand over their wages every month, they control and monitor the amount of money women are given to buy household essentials, or women are given such measly allowances that they cannot buy food or nappies for their children. Many women are prevented from going out shopping by themselves or are forced to provide receipts for every penny that they spend. Some are even prevented from getting or keeping a job.

“Agreement across the banking sector on how best to support women experiencing financial abuse will help them regain their financial independence and control of their lives.  For many women, this is an important step towards leaving an abusive man. A new Code of Practice would empower women and could even save lives.”  

For more information on the ‘My money, my life’ campaign, visit www.co-operativebank.co.uk/mymoneymylife

-Ends-

Notes to editors

According to the ONS the UK Adult Population in mid-2014 was 50.9 million. 18 per cent of this total equates to 9.2 million people.

About The Co-operative Bank
The Co-operative Bank plc provides a full range of banking products and services to around 4.4 million retail and SME (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) customers.  The Bank is committed to values and ethics in line with the principles of the co-operative movement.

The Co-operative Bank is the only high street bank with a customer-led ethical policy which gives customers a say in how their money is used.  Launched in 1992, the Policy has been updated on five occasions, with new commitments added in January 2015 to cover how the Bank operates its business, products and services, workplace and culture, relationships with suppliers and other stakeholders and campaigning.

About Refuge
Refuge opened the world’s first refuge in Chiswick, West London, in 1971. Since then it has grown to become the country’s largest single provider of specialist support to women and children escaping domestic violence and other forms of violence and abuse. On any given day Refuge supports 3,800 women and children experiencing domestic violence, sexual violence, female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage, stalking, trafficking, prostitution and so-called ‘honour’ based violence.

Refuge runs a national network of specialist services, including: safe emergency accommodation through refuges in secret locations across the country; community-based outreach services; culturally specific services for women from South Asian, African and Caribbean, Eastern European and Vietnamese backgrounds; independent advocacy services for women at the highest risk of serious injury and homicide; a range of single point of access services for women, children and men experiencing all forms of violence across entire regions; and the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership with Women’s Aid.

Refuge’s award-winning media and advertising campaigns raise public awareness of domestic violence. Additionally, Refuge campaigns and lobbies for better protection for women and children experiencing domestic violence. In recent years Refuge has advised the governments, law-enforcement agencies, international communities and NGOs of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malawi, St Lucia, Turkey and Russia on their strategies to reduce violence against women.

For more information please visit www.refuge.org.uk or follow Refuge’s work on www.facebook.com/RefugeCharity and Twitter @RefugeCharity.