On Thursday 6 December, the UK Regulators Network and its regulator members held a joint workshop with Money and Mental Health to examine how regulators can support consumers in vulnerable circumstances, particularly those with mental ill health. The participating regulators were the CAA, Ofwat, Ofgem, Ofcom, FCA and the CMA.
The event opened with a presentation by Katie Evans, Head of Research and Policy at Money and Mental Health, on how mental ill health manifests in consumer behaviour, what this means for how regulators think about the ways in which regulated sectors can support people suffering from mental ill health, and the role of minimum standards and encouraging industry best practice in supporting customers in vulnerable circumstances.
Key points of discussion included the impact of mental ill health on how consumers are able to communicate with firms and on decision making, both of which can complicate their interaction with firms and ultimately exacerbate distress and financial detriment. The circular nature of the relationship between mental ill health and debt was also a key point of discussion, with mental ill health both leading to and being exacerbated by or triggered by debt.
Discussion focused not only on the role of minimum standards, but also on how regulators can highlight industry best practice to encourage firms to be ambitious and go beyond the minimum.
The event was hosted at CAA House in London and was held through the UKRN’s Vulnerability Network. Regulators will now be working together, through the UKRN, to think about how these approaches might work in their sectors, including the ways in which minimum standards might work in the context of principles-based regulation, and the implications for monitoring and enforcement. This forms part of the UKRN’s work exploration the use of minimum standards and best practice to support consumers in vulnerable situations following the publication of the BEIS ‘Modernising consumer markets’ Green Paper.