The Select Committee on Financial Exclusion has released their report into financial exclusion in the UK. It follows a consultation in which government ministers, banking providers and charities - including Keep Me Posted - provided evidence on the causes of financial exclusion, who is affected and how it can be addressed.
In the report, the Committee acknowledges that inadequate internet access or digital skills heightens financial exclusion, and the current push to online services - at the expense of offline options - means vulnerable customers are “doubly excluded”.
This reflects what Keep Me Posted has long known and argued; vulnerable groups are more likely to face unfair penalties and difficulties because they are less likely to manage their affairs online.
Keep Me Posted’s evidence is referenced throughout the report, clearly influencing the Committee’s recommendations that non-digital services should be preserved to protect at risk consumers. In a positive step forward for consumer choice banks such as the Cooperative Bank and Lloyds Bank were also noted as agreeing that a “multi-channel” approach is still needed.
However, there is still work to be done to highlight the importance of paper communications, which were notably absent from the offline options outlined as necessary in the report.
Judith Donovan CBE, Chair of the Keep Me Posted campaign, said:
“We broadly welcome the Select Committee’s findings in their Financial Exclusion report. Keep Me Posted believes that every consumer has the right to choose, without disadvantage, how they are contacted by banks and other financial services companies, utility companies, media companies and other service providers.
Our research has shown that those who have the greatest need for paper statements and bills are not limited to the older generation, but include those that are disabled, and those that lack access to the internet or have basic digital skills. It is encouraging to see that the report details how replacing traditional forms of banking with digital services will leave these groups at a disadvantage and exacerbate financial exclusion.
However, we are disappointed that the report does not set out any measures to safe guard consumers’ rights to receive paper statements without penalties. If organisations are allowed to continue to overlook the rights of consumers, it may be too late to get it back”.
To view the full report click here.