Five questions answered on Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank mortgage fines

How big were the shortfalls?

Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank has been ordered to compensate mortgage customers it treated unfairly as well as pay a fine. We answer five questions on the fine.

Who has ordered Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank to compensate customers?

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined the bank £8.9m. The authority said customers were not made aware of their rights after errors in 42,500 accounts in 2009.

It added that Clydesdale was concerned with its own commercial interests rather than its customers.

Around 22,000 customers will now receive payouts averaging £970.

What happened exactly?

There was a calculation error on customers’ mortgage repayments demands over a four year period to 2009. Due to the error, 22,000 customers had underpaid their mortgages and were subsequently expected to increase their monthly repayment to make up for the short fall.

The FCA said this was unfair and the bank should have taken on the cost rather than shifting it to the customer.

How big were the shortfalls?

The underpayments ranged from £20 to over £18,000. They will now be paid back in compensation. Those with outstanding mortgages will see their debt reduced while others will receive a cheque.

A further 20,500 who paid too much of their mortgage may be able to claim compensation as well.

Overall the bank has said the cost of the fine and compensation would total £42m.

What has the FCA said?

"For most people mortgage payments are their biggest monthly outgoing and we all budget on the assumption that the information our mortgage lender gives us about what we need to pay is correct," said Tracey McDermott, of the FCA.

"Here Clydesdale failed in that basic duty and, when it discovered the problem, sought to pass all of the consequences on to its customers - expecting them to find the money to remedy mistakes which were entirely of Clydesdale's making.

"Clydesdale is today paying the price for its decision to put its bottom line ahead of the need to ensure its customers were treated fairly."

What has Clydesdale said?

"I am very sorry that this was not handled as it should have been. We should have made it clear at the time that this was entirely our fault and that some customers may be entitled to compensation," said David Thorburn, chief executive of Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank, which is owned by National Australia Bank.

"Our priority is to fix this for customers as quickly as possible and they will each receive a letter explaining how we will make this right for them."

Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

0800 7318496