A Financial Inclusion Manifesto

Making financial markets work for all in a post financial crisis world

12 March 2010

The Financial Inclusion Centre (The Centre) today publishes its Financial Inclusion Manifesto designed to protect vulnerable consumers from the ongoing effects of the financial crisis and make financial markets work for all over the long term.

The Manifesto is also a call to action for policymakers, campaigners and responsible financial services providers to work together to promote financial inclusion.

The Centre argues that the crisis in the financial system will exacerbate the chronic financial exclusion crisis already blighting the lives of millions of households in the UK. Forcing banks and insurance companies to act more prudently is absolutely right but there will be a price to pay for many consumers.

Mainstream financial providers will understandably inreasingly focus on more profitable, lower-risk, medium-higher income consumers. If the market is left to itself, growing numbers of consumers will be pay a much higher price for access to core financial services, be forced into the hands of poorly regulated sub-prime providers, or be denied access to products and services altogether.

The Manifesto is in two parts. The first part contains a set of emergency measures to protect consumers from the immediate fall-out from the crisis.

The second part proposes a series of regulatory and structural reforms aimed at promoting a financial system that is: fair and inclusive; more competitive, efficient and offers better value for money; more transparent and acccountable to society; and produces more socially useful products and services.

The Centre argues that, while some progress has been made towards promoting inclusion, the crisis changes everything. We should not underestimate the degree to which markets are being fundamentally restructured. Current policies are not ‘fit-for-purpose’ to deal with the long term effects of the crisis.

So, the Centre presents a new vision of financial inclusion based on fairness, rights and social justice. It is not enough to provide consumers with ‘opportunities’. We must ensure consumers’ core financial needs are met and refuse to accept that it is natural that disadvantaged consumers should pay a huge cost for access to decent products or be treated as second class citizens who deserve second class products and services. We must start treating access to core financial services as a fundamential right on a par with access to healthcare and education.

A summary of the Manifesto measures can be found here.
Financial Inclusion Manifesto Summary

The full manifesto can be found here.
Financial Inclusion Manifesto Full Report

For further information, or if you would like to discuss the Manifesto, please contact Mick McAteer, on 0207 391 4594 or mick.mcateer@inclusioncentre.org.uk