Revised Financial Inclusion Strategy for Wales

Do you think financial inclusion plays a key part in tackling poverty? Are you interested in seeing a cohesive and collaborative approach to financial inclusion across Wales?  If so, then now is the chance to have your say.

This week saw the launch of the Welsh Government’s consultation on Refreshing the Financial Inclusion Strategy for Wales 2016, giving us the opportunity to shape and influence the content of this strategy.  One thing is clear, and that is that times are getting harder.  We have already seen unprecedented cuts in public spending, which are set to continue.  Both working and non-working households are being affected by the cuts, making it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. Financial inclusion has never been more important.

The Welsh Government is currently revising its Financial Inclusion Strategy, with a new strategy to be published in 2016.  As the existing strategy was published in 2009, it is anticipated this will be a significant revision which will take into account the changes to the economy, welfare reform, concerns around high-cost credit and the ability of service providers to support people whilst their own resources are reducing.

The Financial Inclusion Strategy will set out how Welsh Government aspires to work with partner organisations, both within Wales and at the UK level, and is focused on three core themes:

  • Access to affordable credit and financial services;
  • Access to financial information, including debt advice; and
  • Building financial understanding and capability.

The revised Financial Inclusion Strategy is being issued for a 9 week consultation period and as part of this consultation we are seeking your views.

I like the way in which the strategy has three core themes, that are equally important.  For example, if people cannot access affordable credit they are often left with no option other than to use lenders with extortionately high interest rates, which only exacerbates the problem. People need to be encouraged to seek advice and help at the first signs of financial difficulty, the earlier they seek help the easier it is to solve the issue.  But alongside this we also need to improve people’s financial understanding and capability, to enable people to make informed and appropriate decisions based on their personal circumstances.

As Financial Inclusion Champions, the Wales Co-operative Centre fully support this work and the strategic and co-ordinated approach to support local authorities and third sector organisations to embed Financial Inclusion into their daily operations, including training staff to improve financial awareness. More of this needs to be done if we are to make a real difference for people living in Wales.

I would encourage you to respond to the consultation via the Money Made Clear Wales website.

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