UK’s financial wellbeing in light of COVID-19

An independent group of cross-sector leaders, including Ipsos CEO Ben Page, has published recommendations for building the UK’s financial wellbeing in light of COVID-19.

A new independent report, which contains 13 recommendations to address the urgent financial wellbeing implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been released today by the Challenge Chairs who advise the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) on the UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing.

These recommendations, which include immediate actions – such as help with credit for people coming out of payment deferrals, no-interest loans for people unable to access affordable credit and essential financial skills training for young people – are set out in a report, Building the UK’s financial wellbeing in the light of COVID-19.

The report has been independently written by the UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing Challenge Chairs. This group of sector leaders started 2020 developing operational plans for the decade-long UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing, however when the crisis began to take hold they adapted the way they work to reflect the new needs of people affected by the crisis.

A fundamental aspect to the UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing is organisations working together for a common goal to better the financial futures of people in the UK. In this report, the Chairs have made recommendations for MaPS, governments, businesses, the financial services and third sectors to work together to take action in order to help lessen the continuing impact of the crisis. They also highlight the impact of COVID-19 on some Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, whose financial wellbeing has been particularly affected.

The recommendations have four themes:

  1. Seizing the moments that matter in people’s lives – focussed on a programme of immediate awareness raising for groups especially affected by the COVID crisis, and then testing and learning from its approach for a future medium and long-term campaign.
  2. Supporting the vulnerable – helping the specific disadvantaged groups whose circumstances have been amplified by the COVID crisis.
  3. Credit and debt – credit is a lifeline for financial wellbeing, but if it mounts too much, over-indebtedness can become a difficult consequence.
  4. Recommendations for government – there are excellent initiatives already in place and the report recommends continuing, expanding, and speeding up this good work.

Ben Page, Chief Executive, Ipsos (Challenge Group: Credit Counts — Use of Credit) said:

All the data we are seeing shows that what started as a physical health crisis is rapidly expanding to become a huge problem for people’s mental and financial wellbeing.
These recommendations are challenging and wide-reaching, but they ask important questions of influential organisations to make a difference to people’s lives by December 2021, and much earlier where possible.

The Challenge Group Chairs have focused this report on 13 recommendations that are deliverable by the end of 2021 and will achieve significant improvements in the financial wellbeing of people made acutely vulnerable due to COVID-19.

These recommendations have been developed alongside a wider programme of work contributing to the longer-term delivery plans which will set out how the UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing will be delivered by the end of 2030. These delivery plans will be published in March 2021 and will have specific commitments for each nation of the UK.

The report also highlights some of the great work being undertaken by organisations around the UK right now, drawing upon a wealth of contributions from across the 11 Challenge Groups including those explicitly tasked with representing the Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh perspectives.

About the Challenge Groups

To meet the goals set out in the UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing, the Money and Pensions Service brought together cross-sector groups of committed specialists to help set milestones for the ten-year journey towards better financial wellbeing.

They were initially convened for a six-month period to address the key strategic financial priorities for the UK, come up with some bold proposals and help create plans to see them put into action. However, when it became clear that COVID-19 would have a critical impact on people’s financial wellbeing as well as their physical and mental wellbeing, the Challenge Groups turned their focus to recommendations for addressing the new crisis.

About the UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing

MaPS spent 12 months listening to our stakeholders and developing a new UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing, which is designed to drive change at scale and shift the dials on personal finance.

The UK Strategy is the ten-year framework which will help achieve the vision of everyone making the most of their money and pensions.

MaPS will play a key role in achieving this vision, by supporting and working with a wide range of other organisations and by delivering services where appropriate.

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