On 6 July 2023, the Bank of England (BoE) and the Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) published their annual report on whistleblowing disclosures in their roles as “Prescribed Persons” for the financial services sector, and as required by the Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order 2014. The report contains anonymised information in relation to: the number of disclosures received from workers; the number of disclosures decided upon; a summary of the action taken in relation to workers’ disclosures; how the disclosures have impacted the ability of those to whom disclosures have been made to perform their functions and meet their objectives in the reporting period; and an explanation of their functions and objectives.
In summary, the report outlines the following figures:
- 197 disclosures were received and assessed as to whether they are protected disclosures;
- the BoE and PRA believed that, of these, 189 disclosures were protected disclosures subject to their supervision; and
- all disclosures (protected and non-protected) were provided to supervisory colleagues, as they can contain vital information as to whether or not they are protected disclosures.
The report includes anonymised case studies (featuring a bank, a credit union and an insurer), which provide interesting insights. Examples of whistleblowing disclosures include: data policy breaches and IT system failures; poor governance and bullying culture; inadequate whistleblowing functions; systematic underestimation of a firm’s capital/solvency position against regulatory reporting requirements; and a lack of action from senior management to resolve issues. Actions taken include a review and letter to the firm, specific business actions to improve Speak Up culture, or a remediation programme.
Whistleblowing continues to be an important channel for workers to report wrongdoing and the Department for Business and Trade is currently conducting a review of the current whistleblowing framework’s effectiveness i.e. whether it is facilitating disclosures, protecting workers and is accessible, as well as its wider impacts and benefits. It is expected that the review will conclude in the autumn of 2023. We look forward to reviewing the DBT’s findings and seeing the developments that follow.