The annual speech outlined the government’s legislative programme for upcoming parliamentary session, this time delivered by Prince Charles for the first time instead of the Queen. A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace said the Queen would not be attending due to “episodic mobility problems”.
Among the 38 bills presented many of them focused on support for the UK economy in the face of the cost-of-living crisis.
Aside from the measures regarding inflation management and regional inequalities, one new programme the government announced was a financial services bill.
In the speech, Charles said: “A bill will be brought forward to further strengthen powers to tackle illicit finance, reduce economic crime and help businesses grow. Measures will be introduced to support the security services and help them protect the United Kingdom.”
The implications of this were not expanded in the speech but in an official notice from the Treasury it revealed that a key focus was protecting access to cash while helping victims of financial scams.
John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury, said that they were “sticking up for victims of financial scams” by “ensuring the regulator can act to make banks reimburse people who have lost money through no fault of their own”.
Matt Burton, chief risk officer at Quilter, said this declaration was timely as “for far too long the onus has been on diligent individuals and financial services providers to identify scam adverts and report them to search engines, the regulator and the police instead of the search engines undertaking basic due diligence to filter out fraudulent adverts in the first place”.
He added this bill was the “perfect opportunity to require search engines and social media platforms to remove sham investment and impersonation scams promptly from their sites and conduct the necessary due diligence to stop them from appearing”.
Myron Jobson, senior personal finance analyst at interactive investor (ii), said that while he hoped this Online Safety Bill would “go some way to plug the flood of financial scams that have mushroomed during the pandemic” the responsibility was still on the induvial to avoid them, “there is no getting around it”.
Although cryptocurrencies were not directly mentioned in the speech or Bill’s details, the government announced a new Economic Crime Act back in February which specifically mentioned reforms regarding the asset as part of the government’s agenda to “tackle illicit finance” generally.
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