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NatWest launches flagship partnership with SafeLives to protect and support customers affected by financial abuse

As the Domestic Abuse Bill continues to make its way through Parliament, NatWest launches a flagship partnership with SafeLives to review and improve upon its existing response to supporting customers who are affected by financial abuse.

Through this partnership, SafeLives will consult on a range of bank policies, procedures and services to ensure that those affected by financial abuse can be provided with the best possible support by NatWest, from reporting their circumstances to having secure face to face conversations with specialist staff.

SafeLives have worked with specialist charity Surviving Economic Abuse to develop a bespoke training package for teams within the bank, which teaches them about the hallmarks of financial abuse and how to spot it and provide appropriate help.

NatWest has also appointed a dedicated financial abuse specialist, working within its Customer Protection Team. They will be available for telephone and video appointments and will support customers on an individual basis to truly understand their situation and what support they require from the bank. The appointment is secure, provides a confidential connection to the bank and offers additional reassurance that the customer is not being impersonated.

Recognising that reporting financial abuse to a bank can be challenging, NatWest will develop a specific online form for customers to contact the bank on their own terms as well as offering secure video banking appointments with specialist bank staff, so they can have a face to face conversation and discuss their options.

Alison Rose, CEO designate at NatWest, said: “Financial Abuse is insidious and invisible and can have truly devastating impacts on people’s lives. It can be hard to spot, and even harder to see a way out of it. Banks have a vital role to play in supporting those affected by financial abuse and I am confident that the partnership with SafeLives will help us better understand the impact of financial abuse on people’s lives.”

Suzanne Jacob, OBE, CEO of SafeLives, said:

“70% of survivors of abuse who engaged with us through our Every Story Matters platform last year told us that the perpetrator used money as a way to control them or cause harm. For too long financial abuse has remained ‘hidden’, with victims unable to access the support they urgently need. Banks plays an important role in our life, often for many years and sometimes for a lifetime, and they therefore have a crucial role to play in improving the response to abuse, using the insight and tools they have. We’re delighted to see NatWest’s commitment to this issue and look forward to working together.”

UK Government Minister for Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins said:

“Domestic abuse is a devastating crime that comes in many forms, including controlling access to money as a type of economic abuse.

“The government’s landmark Domestic Abuse Bill will transform our response. For the first time it will provide an all-purpose definition of domestic abuse in law, which includes economic abuse as a distinct form of abuse, helping to support more victims and deter perpetrators.

“But in order to eliminate domestic abuse, we all must play a part; I commend NatWest, SafeLives and Surviving Economic Abuse for working together to go further to help those who suffer from this deeply harmful crime, and I encourage others to do the same.”

NatWest’s response to providing better support to victims of financial abuse has been informed by sponsored PHD research completed in-house and in consultation with victims and organisations across the UK.

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