From education to employment

University of Salford Business School researchers launch Innovation in Financial Inclusion podcast

Debuting this April, episodes will explore issues facing low-income consumers in the current climate, including the reality of managing on a low income, barriers to saving and accessing affordable credit

The economic landscape and subsequent cost of living crisis is having a disproportionate impact on lower-income households and regions. To add to this, data from the Money and Pensions Service has highlighted nine million people across the UK have no savings and another five million have less than £100[i]; while one in four (24%) UK adults have low financial resilience, equating to around 12.9 million people, according to the Financial Conduct Authority.

In response, Community Finance Solutions (CFS), University of Salford Business School’s independent research and development unit specialising in financial inclusion and community finance, is launching a brand new podcast, Innovation in Financial Inclusion. Launching on Wednesday 19 April and hosted by Senior Research Fellow and Director at CFS, Dr Pål Vik, alongside Graduate Researcher, Andrew Wallace, episodes will centre on radical, innovative interventions, policies and programmes to address financial exclusion, including financial literacy, affordable credit, savings and maximising income.

Guests already lined up for the first season of the podcast include a number of high-profile names in the space, such as the Money and Pensions Service’s Regional Partnership Manager, James Kelly; Fair4AllFinance’s Markets and Consumer Insights Manager, Niall Alexander; The Co-op Credit Union’s CEO, Matt Bland; Rooted Finance’s Managing Director (previously Fair Money Advice), Muna Yassin MBE; and Southern Housing’s Head of Financial Inclusion, Gemma Glass, amongst others.

Host Dr Pål Vik commented: “Being able to access affordable and suitable financial services is an essential part of modern life for households to make large expenditure, bridge temporary gaps between income and spending, and meet unexpected costs. Yet millions of UK consumers lack access to even the most basic of services, such as bank loans, free cashpoints and savings. As a result, they pay more for goods and services, and are more vulnerable to changes in circumstances, in many instances having a negative knock on affect to their mental health.

“In this podcast series, we will be discussing the issues and problems low-income consumers experience in terms of savings, borrowing and debt. We will also focus on a number of innovative programmes designed to help people save, smooth their consumption and repair their finances. Drawing on the latest research and lived experience, the podcast series will provide recommendations for financial inclusion policy and practice for practitioners, funders, policymakers and government.”

According to The Money Charity, the average total debt per UK household in January 2023 was £65,434. Additionally, new research from PwC, based on data from the Office for National Statistics, has signalled UK household debt has now surpassed £2 trillion for the first time and is almost the size of the entire UK economy; while less than half of UK consumers they surveyed could answer ‘basic financial questions.’

Pål concluded: “The work we do at CFS is focused on developing and researching practical and cost-effective ways to help low-income households access affordable and suitable financial services. This is more pressing than ever before with the cost-of-living crisis, the decline in regulated credit for low-income consumers, and an increase in the use of illegal moneylenders.

“A key part of our work has been to learn from best practice and innovation internationally and the UK. So, this podcast really is an extension of that work and draws on areas we’ve specialised in for over 20 years.”Innovation in Financial Inclusion episodes will launch every two weeks on all major podcast streaming platforms, including Spotify.

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