Our economic abuse campaigns

We’re working to better understand financial and economic abuse, to help end it, and to support survivors. On this page you can read more about:

Campaigning for what’s right

Our values and ethics have always been more than words on paper. They underpin how we run our business. We remain the only UK bank to have a customer-led Ethical Policy and we have a proud history of campaigning on issues our customers care about.

Read more about our Ethical Policy

The Financial Abuse Code of Conduct

In 2015, we launched our joint ‘My money, my life’ campaign with national domestic abuse charity, Refuge, and reported the scale of financial abuse for the very first time.

Our work with Refuge led to the launch of an industry-wide Financial Abuse Code of Practice in 2018, which aims to provide survivors of economic abuse with better and more consistent support from across the banking and financial sector. To date, 19 banks and building societies have signed up to the initiative. Together, we’ve made a real difference, but we still have more work to do.

Read more about financial abuse and economic abuse

Our plan of action on economic abuse

We developed a five-point plan of action on economic abuse with Refuge. We recommended that:

1. Banks and other financial services institutions should build on the support they offer to survivors of economic abuse.

2. Credit reference agencies should create a ‘credit rating repair’ system for survivors whose credit rating has been impacted by economic abuse.

3. The Government should create a fund for survivors, to assist them with the costs of leaving an abuser, and accessing a safe place to stay.

4. The Government should reform welfare benefits systems for survivors, by making it easier for them to keep their money separate from their abuser’s, and offering advance payments for those fleeing abusers, paid as grants rather than loans.

5. Banks, other financial services institutions and specialist domestic abuse organisations should conduct a review of how changing technology in banking is impacting survivors of economic abuse, and produce recommendations for change.

This has led to positive action, helping to increase support available for survivors of financial and economic abuse, and helping to prevent it. We’re working with the banking industry and credit reference agencies, to get them more involved in supporting survivors.

Economic abuse in 2020

In 2020, we once again partnered with Refuge, this time to run research into the extent, and how the coronavirus pandemic affected the nature of economic abuse.

We shared the results, raised awareness and developed a plan of action in our ‘Know Economic Abuse’ campaign.

How people experienced economic abuse

Group
Experience
Proportion
Group All UK adults
Experience Had ever experienced economic abuse
Proportion 16%
Group All UK adults
Experience Had ever experienced behaviours which suggest they’ve experienced economic abuse, but they didn’t recognise it
Proportion 39%
Group All people who had ever experienced economic abuse
Experience Were experiencing economic abuse at the time of the study
Proportion 10%
Group All people who had ever experienced economic abuse
Experience Had debts as a result of the economic abuse, which they felt unable to repay
Proportion 21%
Group All people who had ever experienced economic abuse
Experience Had suffered in silence, telling no one about the economic abuse they experienced
Proportion 33%
Group All people who had ever experienced economic abuse
Experience Had also experienced other forms of domestic abuse
Proportion 85%

How economic abuse is changing

Financial pressures

There have been various financial shocks in recent years, including the coronavirus pandemic and the cost of living crisis. Financial stress reportedly leads to higher rates of abuse, and can make it more difficult for survivors to leave the abusive situation, as they may feel less able to support themselves on their own.

We found that:

  • 3% of all UK adults first experienced economic abuse since the coronavirus pandemic started
  • 33% of all people who have experienced economic abuse said their partner first became abusive when their pay decreased as a result of the coronavirus lockdowns.

Technology

The way people bank is changing, meaning more people are accessing digital banking than ever before.

Abusers (or perpetrators) can use this to their advantage, having access to more tools than ever for harassing, observing and controlling others. One in three women have experienced these behaviours, which is known as tech abuse. It can range from unwanted contact through phones and social media, to methods of control via smart home devices.

Banks have a duty to help protect their customers from these dangers. We are aware that technology can be a force for good in supporting survivors to escape abuse, so we wanted to do more research. Of the survivors who took part in our research:

  • 24% said that online banking had made them more vulnerable
  • 15% said that online banking had helped them escape their abusive partner.

Read more of what we found in our report (PDF)

Ask us to contact you at a safe time

We know it might not be possible, or safe, for you to contact us. You can fill in our economic abuse online form to let us know a safe time for us to get in touch with you instead, if that works better for you. Please be aware that the contact form will show in your browser history.

To continue, confirm that you:

Please tick to confirm you want to fill in our economic abuse online form.

If you're worried someone is monitoring your phone, use a safer device, like another phone from a trusted friend, family, or a neighbour, to contact Refuge's 24h National Domestic Abuse Helpline (Freephone) on 0808 2000 247.

It's a good idea to consider who might be able to access things like your emails by checking where your account is logged in. You can find more information about this at the Refuge Tech Safety website.

Fill in the contact form

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