NEWSLETTER: Financial Inclusion Commission Update April 2016

April 29, 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 met to discuss the relationship between money and mental health, has held meetings with officials from BIS and HMT to discuss debt advice policy, and has spoken at various events and conferences across the country organised by stakeholder organisations.

REGISTER: Access to Financial Services Conference, in association with the FCA Tuesday 24 May, 8:30am- 12.30pm
The Financial Inclusion Commission and Financial Conduct Authority, are hosting an event to launch an FCA Occasional Paper on Access to Financial Services, at a half day conference. Building on the success of its Consumer Vulnerability work programme and Occasional Paper, the FCA is carrying out work on access to financial services and financial inclusion. If you are interested in attending, please register here. The Conference will feature a range of speakers and panels from across politics, regulators, industry and the third sector. In particular, we are pleased to provisionally confirm that Harriett Baldwin, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, will deliver a speech on the government’s financial inclusion agenda.

Last month saw two noteworthy policy developments following Budget 2016, with announcement for a new “Help to Save” scheme, and “Pensions Dashboard”. Both policies are welcome moves in the right direction, and follow sustained campaigns by the Commission on these issues. The Commission recommended a Pensions Dashboard as part of its 2015 review and report into the Financial Health of the Nation. In the report, we also advocated for a matched scheme like Help to Save, which is embedded with Universal Credit, and encourages savings amongst those on low incomes. Our full statement on the Budget can be found here.

A debate took place on 11th April 2016 in the House of Lords. on “The issue of the un-banked and under-banked in the UK.” The Commission was pleased that Lords from across the political spectrum spoke on the issue of financial exclusion, and the full transcript of the proceedings can be found here.

Finally, as we move closer to May 2016 and the local, Scottish and Welsh elections, we are keen to ensure that financial inclusion is a priority issue for candidates. We are pleased that Sadiq Khan, Labour Party candidate for Mayor of London, has included a commitment to tackle financial exclusion in his manifesto. We hope to hear further financial inclusion commitments as we draw nearer to polling day.                                      

Overview of activity

Commission meeting
The Commission last met on 17 March 2016. We were delighted to welcome Polly Mackenzie, Director of the Money and Mental Health Institute, as a guest speaker in the first half of the session. Polly presented the new institute, which is a think tank conducting research and policy development on money and mental health. In the second half of the session, Commissioners discussed the strategic aims for the next quarter, including the latest developments in our external engagement activity (see below).

External engagement overview

House of Lords Ad-Hoc Inquiry into Financial Exclusion
The Commission is delighted that the House of Lords has announced its intention to pursue an ad-hoc inquiry on financial exclusion and access to mainstream financial services. The proposal was put forward by Commissioner Lord Archy Kirkwood. The full statement can be found here with the inquiry likely to be confirmed in May. The Commission is dedicated to supporting this inquiry, and Commissioners are committed to playing an active role where possible to ensure its success.

Debt Arrangement Scheme for England and Wales
Lord Wilf Stevenson and Commission staff met with civil service officials from the Insolvency Service and HM Treasury to discuss research conducted by The Commission into extending provisions of the Scottish Debt Arrangement Scheme for England and Wales. The meeting focused on how the Commission’s policy research might be incorporated into research officials are currently undertaking into the concept of a “breathing space” for problem debt.
Lord Stevenson also published a blogpost on The Guardian’s Tackling Financial Exclusion Series Blog, a link to which can be found here.  

Events and speaking engagements

Upcoming: Bank of England Workshop on Financial Exclusion, 5 May 2016
Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles will participate in a workshop for the Bank of England’s Centre for Central Banking Studies on the topic of tackling financial exclusion. The CCBS acts as a forum for sharing ideas and experiences, promoting best practice and building capacity in central banks and regulators around the world.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation Expert Roundtable- 27 April 2016
Chris Pond and Sir Brian Pomeroy participated in an expert roundtable for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, organised by Britain Thinks on the topic of “How to build a more prosperous society.” The meeting focused on measures that financial services, working with government and the not for profit sector, might take as part of a wider poverty eradication strategy.

Guardian Live Chat: Tackling Financial Exclusion, 26 April 2016
Sian Williams took part in a live chat on “How to help residents trapped by financial exclusion” for the Guardian’s Public Leaders Network. The online discussion focused on how professionals in local government, housing and the charity sector can help those trapped by financial exclusion. A link to live chat can be found here.

British Bankers’ Association Consumer Panel, 21 March 2016
The Commission was pleased to be invited to address the BBA Consumer Panel at their March meeting. Chris Pond presented to the Panel on progress the Financial Inclusion commission has made since the publication of our 2015 report.

StepChange – North East Discussion Forum, 17 March 2016
Laurie Edmans represented the Commission at StepChange’s North East discussion forum, in an event entitled Barriers to Financial Inclusion. This event was held in Newcastle, and the Commission is always keen to be involved in events in all UK regions, and not just in London.

Credit unions: turning goodwill into action: panel debate, 2 March 2016
At a panel event organised by the Guardian and Lloyds Banking group, Chris Pond represented the Commission at this event on credit unions, which looked at the practical steps that policymakers and industry can take towards achieving a bigger, sustainable and more successful credit union movement.

Upcoming Events

Tuesday 24 May 2016- Joint Event with FCA- Access to Financial Services paper launch

If there are any upcoming events with a financial inclusion relevance which you would like to publicize, feel free to email details to: