FSA review launched by Government

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The Independent Online

The Government launched a wide-ranging review of the primary legislation of the UK financial services industry yesterday, which could result in organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureaux being allowed to give financial advice.

The review is to study the impact of the Financial Services and Markets Act, which made the Financial Services Authority the super-regulator in the City, on competition, the limits of the legislation and possible changes to the watchdog.

Ruth Kelly, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: "We are not looking to fix a system which is failing. It is nonetheless important that we take stock of the regulatory framework: neither the financial services industry nor the wider world stand still for very long."

However, consumer groups were quick to condemn the terms of the review. Mick McAteer, a senior policy advisor at the Consumers' Association, said it did not go far enough to repair consumer confidence damaged by scandals such as Equitable Life and the split capital investment trusts. "What a wasted opportunity," he said. "The review is very disappointing, with absolutely no recognition of the collapse in consumer confidence and the need for regulation to protect consumers."

The Treasury is also using the review as an opportunity to consult on whether more can be done to remove shackles preventing employers and CABs from giving advice, and whether the Financial Ombudsman should resolve consumer credit disputes.