Making financial inclusion a top political priority in the UK

THE FACTS

Financial exclusion remains a significant challenge for 21st century Britain which prides itself on being a global leader in financial services. 

28%

of adults or 14 million people have experienced a direct negative effect on their income due to the coronavirus pandemic (as of May 2020)

12.5 million

UK adults have little or no confidence in their ability to manage money

22%

of all adults in the UK have less than £100 in savings

1 in 5

adults would not be able to cover more than one month of living expenses if they lost their source of income

1 million

people in the UK do not have a bank account

16%

are borrowing to pay for essentials because they have run out of money

WHO WE ARE

We are an independent body of experts from financial services, businesses, the charity sector, academia and parliamentarians from all major parties.

We want a financially inclusive UK where financial services are accessible, easy to use and meet people’s needs over their lifetime, and where everyone has the skills and motivation to use them.

We provide leadership to improve the state of the nation’s financial wellbeing, championing financial inclusion as a public policy priority for public bodies, businesses, and civil society and challenge exclusion wherever it occurs.

We convene, understand and influence through assembling a coalition for change, gathering evidence, and creating and championing practical policies to achieve change.

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LATEST NEWS

Philip King, Interim Small Business Commissioner, on the impact of late payments

Late payment is a scourge that has a disproportionate effect on small businesses and, according to the FSB, is responsible for the failure of approximately 50,000 small businesses a year. Cashflow is the lifeblood of businesses and, when it runs out, they fail. It’s as simple as that. When employees, a key supplier, or a landlord can’t be paid then the inevitable outcome is failure of the business unless alternative additional funds can be found, and quickly.

As the Small Business Commissioner, my team and I speak to countless businesses that are struggling to get paid by a larger customer. We intervene or signpost to help them resolve the situation and get the monies they’re owed. To date, we’ve directly recouped almost £7.5m, and more than £680k since we entered lockdown. We will also, unknowingly, have supported the collection of far more where our name has been used as a means of encouraging a business to pay.

But the impact of late payment is not just financial, it’s also emotional. I’ve talked to thousands of small businesses through lockdown on webinars and virtual forums and I’ve heard many harrowing stories from business owners: people who are living their passion and dream through running a business but who can be incredibly vulnerable.

As a result of worrying whether a payment is going to arrive or not, they suffer from mental health issues which can cause relationship difficulties, breakdowns, sleeplessness, mood swings and anxiety. Their employees are often personal long-standing friends and they feel a responsibility towards them. At the same time, they are worried about clothing and feeding their own families and know that they will have to make difficult decisions. They’re often caught between a rock and a hard place and frequently feel they have nowhere to turn for help or meaningful advice.

And not every small business owner is tech-savvy. The move to technological solutions is great for some of us but makes others feel excluded and even more vulnerable. That is why the work of the Financial Inclusion Commission (FIC) is so important and why the SBC is eager to collaborate with it. The SBC can help small businesses get paid, and the FIC wants to make sure that financial services are accessible to all, and that everyone has the skills and motivation needed to use them.

If, together, we can help ease the cashflow pressures for small businesses and ensure people can access the services that most of us take for granted, it will be a noble partnership. 

The Financial Inclusion Commission is delighted that Philip will be speaking at our Small Business Roundtable event on Thursday 26 November.

Stiffening the backbone of the UK economy: building back sustainable, resilient small businesses post-Covid

In September, the Financial Inclusion Commission launched a discussion paper focusing on the issues faced by small businesses, in collaboration with Business Debtline. We are delighted to be hosting a roundtable event on Thursday 26 November at 10:30 via Zoom, based on the contents of this paper, titled ‘Stiffening the backbone of the UK economy: building back sustainable, resilient small businesses post-Covid.’

Small businesses have been severely impacted by the crisis and research suggests that as of June, 80% of SME’s had seen a negative impact on their revenue from Covid-19. The coronavirus pandemic has served to accelerate the problems faced by small businesses: obtaining insurance for income continuity; accessing affordable credit; digital access; payment deferrals. We believe that intervention is needed to assist this hugely important sector of the UK economy to recover, innovate, create jobs and employment, and rebuild in a financially resilient way for the future.

We are excited to have Seema Malhotra MP, Shadow Employment Minister and a member of the Financial Inclusion Commission, chairing the event. We have some fantastic speakers lined up including;

  • Liz Barclay, Commissioner at the Financial Inclusion Commission
  • Philip King, Interim Small Business Commissioner
  • Matt Hartley, Head of Public Affairs at Money Advice Trust
  • Miles Celic, CEO at The City UK

If you are interested in attending the event please do get in touch through our email commission@UKFinclusion.org.uk

International Credit Union Day 2020

Today (15 October 2020) marks the 72nd anniversary of International Credit Union Day. 

Beginning in 1948, credit unions have come together annually on the third Thursday in October to commemorate the credit union movement’s history and achievements. 

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives that provide an effective and viable alternative to for-profit financial institutions for more than 274 million members in 118 countries worldwide. More than 85,000 credit unions exist globally, providing a plethora of financial services for their members, recognized as a force for positive economic and social change. 

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, credit unions around the globe have continued to provide a high level of service to their members and demonstrated a generosity to their local communities that has set them apart from other financial institutions. 

The community commitment and positive economic and social change are just some of the ways that credit unions differ from traditional for-profit banks and financial institutions. For more than 150 years, credit unions worldwide have proudly collaborated to put people before profits in order to provide access to affordable financial services for all members. Credit unions invest their earnings in helping members meet their financial goals. 

The provision of affordable credit is crucial to helping those who may otherwise struggle to obtain credit or pay this credit back, and therefore significantly contributes to a financially inclusive UK. The Commission believes that more must be done to support these vital institutions, especially as Covid-19 continues to impact those most financially vulnerable.

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