New organization to provide access to fair and affordable financial services

Stephen Pearson, Chairman of Financial Inclusion for Scotland and Sharon MacPherson, CEO of Scotcash

A group of Scottish policy makers and professionals from the private, charity and not-for-profit sectors have come together to create a new organization to tackle financial exclusion.

Financial Inclusion for Scotland was launched today with the aim of enabling greater financial inclusion in Scotland by supporting those who struggle to access fair or affordable financial services, such as free banking, affordable credit and money management services.

Managed by Social Investment Scotland (SIS), Financial Inclusion for Scotland is made up of ten founding members from the commercial and not-for-profit sectors with a shared commitment to finding new ways to expand financial inclusion in Scotland. Founding members include Scottish Financial Enterprise, Fintech Scotland, the Money and Pensions Service and Scotcash.

Financial Inclusion for Scotland was created to take over and advance the program of the Carnegie Task Force on Affordable Credit, which ended in 2021. The group is chaired by Stephen Pearson, a service sector veteran Scottish financiers for many years. experience in promoting financial inclusion agenda. Formerly of RBS Group and Virgin Money, he was also a trustee of the Virgin Money Foundation and a founding member of the Carnegie Trust Working Group.

After retiring from banking in 2019, Pearson helped Fintech Snoop (which uses open banking technology to provide money management tools) to partner with financial wellness agencies. Stephen currently sits on the advisory board of payday deduction lender, Salary Finance, and was recently appointed chairman of Castle Community Bank, the Edinburgh-based credit union.

The launch of Financial Inclusion for Scotland comes at a time when many households across Scotland are struggling to cope with the dual impact of Covid and the current cost of living crisis. According to a study by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), in 2021 the Covid-19 pandemic has widened pre-existing gaps for low-income households in day-to-day borrowing and paying bills. There is also new evidence to suggest that more people are using unlicensed lenders or loan sharks than before COVID-19.

Financial Inclusion for Scotland will hold its first conference on 9 November with Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP confirmed as keynote speaker.

Stephen Pearson, Chairman of Financial Inclusion for Scotland, said: “Enabling greater financial inclusion should play a key role in an inclusive Scotland. The cost of living crisis has highlighted the enormous difficulties many people in Scotland face in managing their household budgets. Working with the Scottish Government, some of the brilliant third sector agencies, the Fintech community and financial services groups, we hope to find new ways to provide those who need it most access to affordable credit, advice stigma-free debt management and smartphone-based money management. tools.

“We also hope to stimulate new investments in this sector through new partnerships and more coherent policies, while developing practical and innovative solutions that can have a real impact on the ground. Our work has only just begun, but I’m confident we can make a meaningful difference as a collective.

Alastair Davis, Managing Director of SIS, said: “SIS has been supporting the expansion of affordable credit provision for over 20 years, so we are delighted to play a leading role in helping to drive the credit agenda forward. Scotland’s Financial Inclusion. At a time when many people are struggling to afford basic food and heating, a situation that will only get worse in the coming months, the role of CDFIs will become increasingly important.

“As locally rooted social enterprises that exist to provide finance to people and businesses that cannot get what they need from banks, we need these CDFIs to fill the growing gaps in the affordable credit market. . One of our key tasks at Financial Inclusion for Scotland is to seek out innovative ways to expand this vital market to provide a lifeline to communities across Scotland.

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