Financial Exclusion: Access to Cash — [Sir Henry Bellingham in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:07 am on 21st May 2019.

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Photo of Bim Afolami Bim Afolami Conservative, Hitchin and Harpenden 10:07 am, 21st May 2019

I thank Seema Malhotra for bringing this debate forward. I speak as chair of the APPG on credit unions and as a fellow member of the Financial Inclusion Commission. When I first came to this place two years ago, I visited a credit union just outside my constituency that serves several of my constituents. A lady there said something very important to me. She said, “Bim, it is very expensive to be poor.” I really thought about that, and everything I have seen in the past couple of years has confirmed my sense of the facts. We have already heard that 39% of people have no savings. When people have very little cash—or, should I say, money, resources, or assets—it can often cost them so much to do things and to borrow money. They can quickly fall beneath the waterline. That is one reason why credit unions are so important, and I echo the things that have already been said about promoting credit unions.

Financial education has not particularly come up in the debate. I lose track of the number of times that people have said over the past five, 10 or 15 years, “We need to promote financial education in schools. People need to learn better habits. They need to be able to manage their money more effectively. They need to understand how mortgages work, how credit cards work, what APR is and what interest is”, yet we never do anything. Will the Minister respond to that in his remarks? I know he is not the Education Secretary—at least, not yet.