NEWSLETTER: Financial Inclusion Commission Update - October 2016

October 31, 2016

This newsletter provides an update on recent activity and developments in which the Financial Inclusion Commission has been engaged. Since our last update, the Commission has held a successful event at Conservative Party Conference, has continued its ongoing stakeholder engagement programme with representatives from government, and individual Commissioners have been speaking at events and writing articles about the issues of specific importance to them in the financial inclusion space.

Political and regulatory update: 
The Commission welcomes recent political and regulatory developments which will go some way to promoting financial inclusion on the public policy agenda, and are very much in line with recommendations the Commission has been pursuing over the last 2 years. Particular highlights have included: the announcement by DWP and HMT to create a new public body offering debt advice, money and pensions guidance, as well as a commitment by the FCA to focus on "vulnerable" consumers as a core feature of its Future Mission statement. 

Whilst we welcome recent developments, the Commission still feels there is a role to play for the government to prioritise financial inclusion as part of the new "Inclusive Economy" agenda, to ensure that the United Kingdom is truly "a country that works for everyone." The Commission looks forward to working constructively and productively with the government to help shape this agenda. 

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Overview of activity 

Conservative Party Conference & Political Update

On Monday 3 October, the Commission was delighted to host a reception at Conservative Party Conference, which sought to bring together MPs and stakeholders to highlight the importance of financial inclusion, to government and the wider stakeholder community. We were honoured to have as our guest speaker Jane Ellison MP, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who gave an impassioned speech highlighting the important role comprehensive financial inclusion can play in building a fairer society, as part of the government’s broader agenda of creating “a country that works for everyone.”

In addition to Ms Ellison’s remarks, Commissioner Jeremy Quin MP our Conservative parliamentary champion, as well as our chair, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, called on the Government to prioritise financial inclusion, noting recent successful engagement the Commission has been undertaking, in the hope of a new revitalisation of interest in financial inclusion in the policy agenda.

Among those the Commission were privileged to welcome as guests were Minister of State for Employment Damian Hinds MP, Treasury Select Committee Member Steve Baker MP, Education Select Committee Members Kit Malthouse MP and Lucy Frazer MP, as well as John Godfrey, Director of Policy for 10 Downing Street. Pictures of the event can be found on our Twitter page here

The Commission would like to thank all of those who attended and made the event such a great success. We hope that following this Party Conference, financial inclusion will be taken on board by the May government to help build a stronger and more inclusive Britain.

Commissioners give evidence at House of Lords Financial Exclusion Select Committee Inquiry
The Commission was delighted to provide oral evidence as part of the ongoing House of Lords Financial Exclusion Inquiry on 13 September 2016. Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles (Chair), Chris Pond (Vice Chair), and Sir Brian Pomeroy (President) all gave evidence as part of the inquiry, in a lively and wide-ranging session which covered a range of topics. A transcript of the Oral Evidence session can be found here. You can also view our written evidence which was submitted to the inquiry and subsequently published on our website here.
Meeting with the Cabinet Office Inclusive Economy Unit
Sir Sherard Cowper-Cowles
(Chair) and Chris Pond (Vice Chair) met with officials from the Cabinet Office who are leading the Government’s new “Inclusive Economy Unit” on 19 October 2016. The Unit is currently being staffed by representatives from the Cabinet Office, but will transfer to the Department for Culture, Media & Sport in a change to the machinery of government. The new unit will bring together the expertise of the public, private and civil society sectors to help develop the Government’s “inclusive economy” strategy. The meeting provided the opportunity for the Commission to consider where there might be potential synergies in the work of the two bodies, and how we might best be able to support.
British Bankers Association- Financial Inclusion- Access Forum 18 October 2016
Commissioner Chris Pond presented to the BBA's Financial Inclusion and Access Forum, which sought to engage industry stakeholders and regulators to discuss key concerns around digitisation and balancing safeguarding and access, AML and ID&V and access to credit. Chris discussed how in the face of increasing technological and regulatory change, issues of exclusion are becoming even more important to consider, and how the Commission hopes to play its role a role. 

Breathing Space Private Members Bill Launch- 19 October 2016
The Commission is proud to support a Private Members Bill on the topic of Breathing Space , which is being led by Kelly Tollhurst MP. At an event in parliament, Ms Tollhurt formally launched the Bill, which is being supported by StepChange and the Children's Society, and has the full support of the Commission. Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles spoke briefly at the event, reiterating our support. The Breathing Space Bill would protect individuals and families seeking to resolve their financial difficulties from the drivers of worsening debt –  halting additional interest and charges, collections and enforcement action and providing a platform for a return to financial good health. The Bill complements research produced earlier by the Commission on how best to adapt a Scottish style Debt Arrangement Scheme into English and Welsh Law, to make for the provisions of a Breathing Space Bill. We hope that MPs from across parties will support this important initiative. 

Launch of new Demos publication on financial inclusion: Banking for All 
Commission President Sir Brian Pomeroy spoke at an event organised by Demos at Conservative Party Conference a new report entitled "Banking for All". The report aims to build on the work of the Commission in 2015, and the recent FCA Access to Financial Services Occasional Paper, to recommending specific policy ideas to achieving comprehensive financial inclusion in the UK.

Financial Inclusion Week 17 - 23 October 2016
Mindful of the global scale of financial exclusion, we were pleased to mark international financial inclusion week. The Commission believes that there is a need for global leadership on the the issue , and feels the UK can play a leading role in setting an example of how developed economies can eradicate exclusion. Commissioners wrote a number of blogs to mark the week, and they can be found on our website here. Please feel free to engage with our content on our website, and on Twitter

Upcoming Event: Access to Insurance Roundtable- 24 November 2016
Commissioner Laurie Edmans CBE is organising an industry roundtable on Access to Insurance, in conjunction with disability charity Scope. The event is a natural continuation from the Roundtable discussion held at the FCA-FIC Access to Financial Services Conference earlier this year, and we are honoured to welcome an impressive list of senior figures from the insurance industry, regulatory, NGO and third sector organisations. We hope the event will provide an opportunity for figures within the industry to come together to discuss how the insurance sector can tackle financially exclusion in a commercially viable way.

Dates for the diary

  • Money Advice Service- Financial Capability Week - Monday 14 - Sunday 20 November 2016
  • There will be a series of events to mark FiCap Week. Please see the website for more details
  • Financial Inclusion Commission meeting - 7 December
  • Christians Against Poverty report launch – 12 December