Treasury Committee press notice no 8

Session 2005-06 15 November 2005

New Treasury Committee inquiry: Financial Inclusion

The Treasury Committee will undertake an inquiry into Financial Inclusion in the first half of 2006. As part of this inquiry the Committee will consider in particular:

1.access to banking services;

2.access to affordable credit;

3.financial education and access to financial advice;

4.incentives and barriers to saving for people on below average incomes;

5.the role of the Government, the Financial Services Authority and other bodies and organisations in promoting financial inclusion;

6.the benefits of financial inclusion and the extent to which financial inclusion measures can contribute to combatting poverty and reducing barriers to employment.

The Committee wishes to receive written evidence by Wednesday 11 January focusing on any or all of the six broad areas identified above.

The following list of issues within each of these areas is intended to assist those preparing evidence, but is not intended to be comprehensive.

1. Access to banking services

•Action taken by the Government and the banking industry towards reducing the 1.9 million households in the UK without a bank account;

•Access to banking services, including the operation, usefulness and regulation of basic bank accounts, and access to cash withdrawals.

2. Access to affordable credit

•Measures to enable households excluded from mainstream credit to have access to affordable credit;

•The role of credit unions and community development finance institutions;

•The provision of interest-free loans from the Social Fund.

3. Financial education and access to financial advice

•The role of the Financial Services Authority, the Department for Education and Skills and others in promoting and supporting improved financial education in schools, other educational institutions and the workplace and the progress of the national strategy for financial capability;

•The provision and regulation of generic financial advice about debt and savings.

4. Incentives and barriers to saving for people on below average incomes

•The operation of the Government's Savings Gateway accounts programme;

•The impact of the Basic Advice Regime in encouraging saving;

•The extent to which decisions on saving are influenced by factors affected by financial services regulation, such as the cost of regulated advice, as opposed to other factors, such as the State benefits system.

5. The role of the Government, the Financial Services Authority and other bodies and organisations in promoting financial inclusion

•The work of the Financial Inclusion Taskforce, and the use of resources from the Financial Inclusion Fund;

•Lessons from successful local or regional initiatives designed to address geographical concentrations of financially excluded households.

6. The benefits of financial inclusion and the extent to which financial inclusion measures can contribute to combating poverty and reducing barriers to employment

•The extent to which problems of financial exclusion can be tackled by actions in the sphere of financial policy as opposed to wider policy developments relating to welfare policy, pensions and benefits

The Committee invites all interested parties to address any or all of  these terms of reference in writing. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 11 January. More information about the required format of submissions is given below.

NOTES FOR SUBMITTERS

Submissions should be in Word or rich text format and sent by e-mail to [email protected] The body of the e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from.

Submissions should be in the format of a self-contained memorandum and should not be of undue length. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document must include an executive summary, ideally no more than one page long.

Committees make public much of the evidence they receive during inquiries. If you do not wish your submission to be published, you must clearly say so. If you wish to include private or confidential information in your submission to the Committee, please contact the Clerk of the Committee to discuss this. Please bear in mind that Committees are not able to investigate individual cases.

Personal information, such as address and contact details, should be provided separately from the body of your submission. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Once submitted, no public use should be made of the submission unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee.