On 19 January Croydon Council’s Cabinet will consider adopting principles around financial inclusion and the impact of national Government welfare reforms on the residents of Croydon.
The aim is to provide the right skills and tools that allow residents of Croydon to make their own financial choices, live an independent life and grow their finances.
’Financial inclusion is defined as the ability of an individual, household or group to access appropriate financial services or products. Without this ability people are often referred to as financially excluded.’
People that are financially excluded might:
- Not be able to access affordable credit;
- Not want of have difficulty obtaining a bank account;
- Be financially at risk through not having home insurance;
- Struggle to budget and manage money or plan for the unexpected;
- Not know how to make the most of their money
- Be unable to sustain suitable housing.
‘Increasing customers’ financial capability will be a key aspect of supporting residents through the introduction of Universal Credit; as a minimum customers will need a bank account facility to receive their benefits. Principally this will ensure that customers have access to financial guidance and budgeting support that maximises and supports them to be financially independent.’
The Cabinet paper ‘builds on the individual workstreams that are already being undertaken across the Council’s services and its partners to provide a consolidated package of measures that will make a real change. It also builds on a number of the lessons learned from other Authorities about how they tackled financial inclusion. Key to this is will be how to identify specific needs of customers; greatly improving the Council’s offer to those that can help themselves; including a comprehensive website allowing resources to be invested in face to face contact for the most vulnerable residents.’
Access to financial service
The paper acknowledges that ‘fragmented services across the Council do not recognize the signposts of where intervention could be made (particularly across other council services); maintaining the status quo of service delivery and necessary distress on customers and preventable cost to the council. To mitigate this risk will require providing training and support for all customer facing staff, providing them with the tools, services and knowledge for them to engage directly with customers around budgeting, maximizing benefits, access to bank accounts etc consistently and regardless of which Council service is being accessed by the customer.’
The paper can be accessed at