The Community Investment Coalition (CIC) and Social Investment Scotland (SIS) are bringing together a high-level group of influencers on 12th December in the Scottish Parliament to discuss ‘tackling financial exclusion by understanding patterns of access to finance’. The event will shine a spotlight on what action the Scottish Parliament can take to tackle financial exclusion in local communities.
Many Scottish households experience financial exclusion. It is estimated that 940,000 households in Scotland experience relative poverty. Household debt levels are rapidly rising while interest rates and inflation are putting further pressure on household income. This makes it critical for Scottish decision makers to fully understand patterns of financial exclusion and develop effective policy solutions to tackle this.
Responsible finance providers, like Social Investment Scotland, play a vital role in providing credit to those on low incomes, small businesses and social enterprises. But despite their significant local economic impact in stimulating industry and employment, they do not have the reach to meet the increasing demand for responsible finance.
The event will be hosted by Jackie Baillie MSP, Scottish Labour’s spokesperson for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, and one of the driving forces behind the creation of Social Investment Scotland in 2001.
Key speakers include Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work and Tom Mason MSP, Conservative Party spokesperson for financial sustainability, together with academic and policy experts.
Economy Secretary Keith Brown said:
“Financial inclusion for all is a key element of our social justice agenda which is why the Scottish Government is working with the responsible finance sector to make this a reality.
“There are a number of organisations, including credit unions and community development finance initiatives, doing fantastic work across Scotland to promote and support the spread of accessible banking and credit for our most disadvantaged individuals and communities. In light of the disappointing news of planned bank branch closures from across the banking sector, these organisations will play an important role in providing alternative banking and credit services for communities across the country.
“However, there is more to be done to build on this good work and ensure that a choice of ethical and affordable financial products and services are open to all. This event provides an excellent opportunity to discuss the challenges and opportunities around making this a reality.”
Jackie Baillie, MSP commented:
“Real wages are falling in Scotland as inflation continues to rise and too many families are being pushed into debt to make ends meet. At the same time we are facing a ‘poverty premium’ where people in our most deprived communities are forced to pay more for a whole range of financial services. In turn, this can lead people into even deeper levels of debt.
“We urgently need to develop a twin strategy to lift wages and boost incomes in Scotland as well as increase access to responsible lenders and money advice services. Financial exclusion is a major social justice issue and action must be taken to ensure that no community is left behind.”
Chief Executive of Responsible Finance and Director of the Community Investment Coalition, Jennifer Tankard said:
“Many households are under huge financial pressure. While wages remain stagnant, rising prices of everyday goods and interest rates are putting real strain on household incomes, forcing people into increasing debt. Successful policy interventions to help tackle this need to be based on a good understanding of which communities are under greatest strain and so in greatest need of access to the services that responsible finance providers offer. We are delighted to bring this high-level group of influential politicians, academics and other experts together to explore what further action the Scottish Parliament can take to tackle financial exclusion.”
Alastair Davis, Chief Executive of Social Investment Scotland also commented:
“Social Investment Scotland are grateful to Jackie Baillie for hosting this event and helping to raise the profile of the Responsible Finance industry. Scotland’s responsible finance providers have an important role to play in providing access to financial services out with the mainstream and we hope that, working in partnership, we can make strides to achieve our objectives.”