Thursday, 29 March 2007

Treasury Proposes Financial Inclusion Strategy

The Treasury has today released details of its plans to develop a Financial Inclusion Strategy after the completion of the Comprehensive Spending Review. Financial inclusion: the way forward sets out the Government's goals for financial inclusion policy. Building on the Economic Secretary's announcement before the Budget, that there will be a new Financial Inclusion Fund for the next spending period, which will maintain the 'current level of intensity' of action to promote financial inclusion.

The document also announces a £6 million extension to the Growth Fund to further support for credit unions and community development finance institutions

Ed Balls, commenting on Financial Inclusion, said:

"We have made real progress on financial inclusion but there is still a lot more to do. Tackling financial exclusion is essential for both our economic prosperity and for social justice. It is good for individuals, for society and the economy as a whole. I look forward to working with everyone to drive this agenda forwards in the coming months."

Debt on our Doorstep welcomes the commitment to develop a national financial inclusion strategy but is disappointed that the resources to be made available to support this appear limited to current levels and there is no indication that the Government will compel banks to make increased levels of proviate finance available to third sector lenders.

Damon Gibbons, Chair of Debt on our Doorstep commented:

"The devil will be in the detail of the strategy. But without any regulatory levers on the banks to increase their investment in third sector lenders we remain sceptical that this will achieve the level of growth required to bring affordable financial services and credit to those on the lowest incomes"

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