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.

About us

OUR LATEST STRATEGY, RESEARCH & CONSULTATION RESPONSES

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LATEST NEWS

Financial Inclusion Commission hosts first Financial Inclusion Virtual Summit

The Financial Inclusion Commission was delighted to host its first Financial Inclusion Virtual Summit on 15th February 2022. Joined by 145 guests across the financial services, government, not-for-profit and academic sectors, the Conference heard from speakers, such as Rt Hon John Glen MP, Lord Holmes of Richmond, and Sir Hector Sants.

In a video address, John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to HM Treasury reiterated his commitment to a financially inclusive United Kingdom, noting “financial inclusion and how we maximise access to financial products” as one of his highest ministerial priorities. The Minister also noted his view that financial inclusion is “integral” to the Government’s Levelling Up agenda. Sir Hector Sants, Chair of the Money and Pensions Service, echoed these comments on the importance of financial inclusion, while highlighting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on personal finances and outlining MaPS National Strategy for Financial Well-being. 

Attendees were also able to hear from and question Theodora Hadjimichael, CEO of Responsible Finance and Eric Leenders, Director of Personal Finance at UK Finance on the topic of the UK’s Financial Inclusion Road to Recovery following COVID-19. In the Q&A session, vital topics, such as, connectivity between service providers were raised. 

The Commission wishes to thank all our Conference speakers and guests for their contributions to the Conference and is looking forward to welcoming guests again to its follow-up events over the coming weeks.

The Commission responds to the W&P consultation on Protecting Pension Savers

The Commission has submitted its response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s inquiry into ‘Protecting Pension Savers: Saving for Later Life’. The Commission exposes, for the first time, the wide disparities in the financial position different groups of people will find themselves in when they reach retirement. Most people expect the same – positive – outcome from very different inputs. Many will be disappointed. At the crux of the issue: many peoples’ expectations of their post-retirement lifestyle are rising, while their likely outcomes are falling. 

Whilst we believe that the age limits and minimum earnings levels for automatic enrolment should be reduced, as they deprive many low paid employees of an employer’s contribution, we think it unlikely that an increase in total ‘automatic’ contributions, to bring likely outcomes in line with expectations, will be possible in the next 5 years. So, unless something is done to get people more connected, many are ‘sleepwalking’ into a much worse situation than they expect. It’s not just the new generation of people automatically enrolled. Many people who could get higher ‘employer matched’ contributions do not take them up – often giving up the chance to get £3 of value for £1 of contributions.

As part of our constructive and research-based response, the Commission suggested two solutions to this pensions time-bomb facing the UK. First, a major campaign effort is needed to change the nation’s retirement saving attitude, which remains largely as it was in the 20th century. A properly costed and powerful campaign to create a lightbulb ‘moment’ aimed at the 30 million Britons in work, will help those currently sleepwalking into tough financial situations in later life to understand where they stand and what can be done to improve their likely retirement outcomes. Second, a fresh review, similar to that carried out to such effect by the Pensions Commission, is needed to achieve a consensus on the situation. The last comprehensive analysis from the Pensions Commission is quickly reaching 20 years old. A new review is recommended to prevent the nationwide sliding – incomprehensively – into inadequate pension saving.

The Commission welcomes any opportunities to work and collaborate further on the subject with the Committee and other stakeholders.

You can find our full response here.

Financial Inclusion must be integral to FCA work says Financial Inclusion Commission and Fair by Design campaign

The Financial Inclusion Commission and Fair By Design is calling on the Government to introduce a statutory commitment for the FCA to take into account financial inclusion across the board as part of the Future Financial Regulatory Framework Review.

The Commission and Fair By Design believe that everybody should have access to financial products and services that meet their needs over the course of their lifetime. For this to happen the market needs to be able to accommodate the specific needs of people on low incomes and with certain characteristics, such as those with a physical disability or experiencing poor mental health – regularly referred to as consumer vulnerabilities. However, the market has evolved so that those who often have the least resources and are most vulnerable:

  • struggle to afford, or pay extra for, appropriate products and services because they are deemed to be a higher risk/not as desirable to serve;
  • are not able to access products and services that meet their needs because they are deemed to be ‘non-standard’;
  • are excluded altogether.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has a range of powers and tools that it uses to regulate the market. These include its statutory objectives as well as the Treating Customers Fairly outcomes and its Public Sector Equality Duty. Despite all of this, it still does not have a clear duty or cross-cutting ‘must have regard’ provision to tackle financial inclusion. The new FCA Consumer Duty will not address this issue either.

We want a clearer remit placed on the regulator to ensure it routinely and properly explores financial inclusion issues across its work, allowing greater clarity on the unintended consequences of regulation, the best interventions needed to ensure financial inclusion, as well as who is best placed to act. This will sometimes be the FCA, the Government, or a mixture of institutions working together.

We believe that the Future Financial Regulatory Framework review provides an appropriate vehicle to achieve this and it is currently open for consultation. The FCA has a huge opportunity here to help those who are being let down by the current financial market, but they need the Government to introduce this duty.

Join our campaign by signing our open letter here.

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