NEWSLETTER: Financial Inclusion Commission Update - May 2017

May 31, 2017

This newsletter provides an update on recent activity and developments in which the Financial Inclusion Commission has been engaged. If you would like the Commission to support or publicise an event or project you are hosting, please feel free to contact us.

Our website can be found at: www.financialinclusioncommission.org.uk
Follow us on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/ukfinclusion
Email us at: commission@ukfinclusion.org.uk

Political and regulatory update

The Commission continues to conduct high-level engagement with government and opposition politicians. Most recently, Commissioners met with members of the No.10 Policy Unit, officials from the Inclusive Economy Unit, and HM Treasury, as well as Members of Parliament who have taken an interest in our priority issues.

Formal engagement is currently on hold, given the election campaign, and will recommence once a new government is elected, and it is clear who the key stakeholders are for the Commission to engage with. The Commission look forward to continuing to make the important progress so needed in this area.

Manifesto Commitments and Financial Inclusion

The Commission was pleased to see commitments on financial inclusion related issues appear in political party manifestos, which demonstrate a growing momentum towards a cross-party consensus on the social and economic benefits of a financially inclusive society. We recognize however that there is still progress to be made in order to ensure that parties put financial inclusion front and centre of their efforts.

The Conservative Party Manifesto featured a commitment to introduce a new Scottish Style “Breathing Space” Debt Arrangement scheme. The Commission, to support excellent work by StepChange and others in the space, led a campaign on this specific issue in 2016, working with the Insolvency Service to demonstrate how such a scheme might work, in order to safeguard vulnerable individuals at risk of falling into the cycle of problem debt.  We also welcome calls in the Conservative Manifesto to “strengthen the hand of regulators”, and to commit to the ongoing provision of public services in rural areas (such as Post Offices).

With the Labour Party Manifesto, although no specific commitments to Financial Inclusion were included, we note that comprehensive financial inclusion is vital for the overall theme of Labour’s programme for government “for the many and not the few”. We welcome the Labour Party’s commitment to address physical access barriers to financial services, through legislating to not close bank branches where there is clear local need.

We were pleased to see the Liberal Democrat Manifesto include a wholescale commitment to financial inclusion, including recommendations for the government to take forward the recommendations of the House of Lords Select Committee on Financial Exclusion, in particular by expanding the Financial Conduct Authority’s remit to include a statutory duty to promote financial inclusion as one of its key objectives.

We welcome commitments in the SNP manifesto for a new Poverty and Inequality Commission, which will provide advice on tackling poverty and regularly monitor and report on progress. We would be keen to engage with such a commission, to ensure financial inclusion was an important element of this new body’s work. We also welcome commitments in the manifesto to ensure banking is receptive to the needs of the most vulnerable consumers.
 
Looking ahead to Party Conference 2017

Commissioners are keen to partner this year with organisations within the stakeholder community for events during Party Conference. If you would like to suggest for one of our Commissioners to appear on a panel event you are organising, or would like the Commission to co-brand and support an event you are organising, please do contact the Secretariat at commission@ukfinclusion.org.uk
 
House of Lords Financial Exclusion Committee Inquiry

The Commission has closely followed and supported where possible the work of the Financial Exclusion Committee, as part of its ongoing inquiry into Financial Exclusion and Access to Financial Services.

We were very pleased to see the publication of the Committee report, which placed front and centre the recommendations made by members of the Commission, and recommend that the government show leadership and coordination in the fight against financial exclusion.

We feel very strongly that it is important for any new government elected post 9 June to ensure that a full debate is had in the House of Lords on the Financial Exclusion Committee’s report.

International Engagement

The Commission has been involved in some exciting international facing activity in recent months. We met with representatives from the Australian microfinance organisation Good Shepherd Finance, to discuss how the organisation has been successful in developing the “Financial Inclusion Action Plan” on behalf of the Australian Government. Moreover, we were delighted to provide a briefing on the Financial Inclusion Commission to the Economic Minister of a Southern European Sovereign nation, currently also grappling with the issue of financial inclusion, how the “Commission Model” and key recommendations might be implemented in other geographies.

The Commission regularly participates in roundtables and panels in the hope of working in partnership with stakeholder organisations to further debate. If you would like to discuss Commission involvement in any projects you are currently working on, please email: commission@ukfinclusion.org.uk

Dates for the diary

  • Financial Inclusion Commission meeting: Thursday 23 March
  • FCA Access to Insurance Event: Tuesday 20 June
  • General Election 2017- Thursday 9 June