Banks Face £1.5bn Hit From PPI Claims Deluge
Britain's largest high street banks will announce next week that they are setting aside more than £1bn in additional provisions to compensate customers who were mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI).
Sky News can exclusively reveal that Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) will use their half-year results statements to the City to disclose that the big four lenders' combined bill for the PPI scandal has soared to well over £20bn.
The new provisions are understood to be being driven by an acceleration in the number of claims which relate to PPI policies sold before 2005, and have prompted urgent talks among bank executives about the conduct of claims management companies (CMCs).
Insiders said that the new top-ups could reach close to £1.5bn between the biggest banks.
To date, the PPI scandal has seen Lloyds allocating £9.8bn for compensation; Barclays has set aside £3.95bn; RBS has provided £3.1bn; and HSBC's bill has reached £2.1bn.
The sizeable new top-ups may revive calls for a so-called time-barring exercise, which would involve imposing a cut-off point for consumers to submit compensation claims.
Banking sources said on Tuesday that Barclays would account for the largest percentage of the additional compensation bill but pointed out that that was largely because it had not taken a new provision since last July, whereas some of its rivals had done so earlier this year.
The total PPI bill for Lloyds, which is 25%-owned by taxpayers, is expected to pass £10bn as a result of its new provision.
The final numbers are still being worked out with each lender's auditors, which are understood to be pushing board members to take a conservative approach to the issue by setting aside substantial sums.
The scale of the new bill will surprise many in the City, particularly after the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) said on Monday that new complaints fell by more than 50% during the last three months, prompting it to say that the worst of the scandal had passed.
The FOS said it had received just under 57,000 PPI-related complaints in the second quarter of the year, compared with just over 132,000 in the same period last year.
The latest wave of claims is understood to be particularly concerning to banks because many date back to before 2005, which was the reference point for an unsuccessful judicial review brought by the major banks three years ago.
Executives at major banks argue that the cost of administering even fraudulent or otherwise invalid claims can reach £1000 each, eroding their capital at a time when they are facing political demands to lend more money to small businesses.
Banks are obliged to keep customer records for seven years, meaning that many new claims relate to policies for which neither banks nor customers have an accurate record.
The British Bankers' Association (BBA) had been leading tentative discussions with the City regulator about a cut-off point for claims.
Martin Wheatley, the Financial Conduct Authority's chief executive, told MPs earlier this year that he was sceptical about the prospects of a time-barring exercise.
At the time, the BBA said: "We are working with our members on a number of aspects of PPI complaints. The ongoing work focuses on three issues as a priority: addressing backlogs, making sure that customers can be confident that the offers they receive are right and highlighting that there is no need for them to engage a claims management company.
In January last year, the FCA said it had agreed to talks with the industry about a time limit, but would insist that the banks funded a huge advertising campaign to ensure sufficient awareness of the PPI issue.
The hostility of consumer groups to a deadline appeared to kill any prospect of a deal, and it is unlikely that they would be any more enthusiastic about a deal, analysts suggested.
Barclays, Lloyds and RBS all declined to comment.