Last updated Date:10/04/2013
Financial inclusion is about being able to access appropriate and affordable financial products and having the knowledge, skills and confidence to use them. There is a strong link between being a social housing tenant and experiencing financial exclusion and benefit dependence. There are many compelling reasons why housing providers should help their tenants develop financial capability so they are able to manage their personal finances.
The case for helping tenants improve financial capability
There are several reasons including:
- The current economic climate is more challenging than ever with rising unemployment
- Benefit caps and housing benefit reductions will mean many tenants on benefits experiencing a drop in income
- Introduction of direct payment housing benefit will also mean many tenants will have to manage their own rent payments for the first time which could impact on housing providers own income streams
- Universal Credit will change the way benefits are paid and claimants will have to manage monthly rather than fortnightly payment
- Better money management skills are likely to lead to improved well-being
Providers are operating in a landscape of increased financial hardship with the likelihood of increased levels of rent arrears.
What do providers need to do?
Providers need to review their approaches to financial inclusion in the light of the proposed changes. This could include identifying tenants likely to be affected by the changes. Providers will need to work with partner agencies to help tenants access money and debt advice, affordable credit, low cost home contents insurance and promote credit union budgeting accounts as well as access to bank accounts.
Our viewWork to help tenants manage their money and access financial products is a fundamental part of tenancy sustainment. Changes to the benefit system, coupled with the rise in worklessness means that more tenants are likely to be experiencing money problems. Helping people prepare for benefit changes by promoting budgeting and rent payment accounts, as well as money advice and financial capability training also makes good business sense for organisations.
CIH work in tackling financial exclusion
CIH funded by the Money Advice Service and Barclays worked closely with housing providers from November 2009 to April 2012 to help them adopt a strategic approach to their financial inclusion work. This included:
- Initial awareness rising amongst providers on financial exclusion
- Helping providers develop and implement action plans on financial inclusion
- Developing guidance, tools and training courses on financial inclusion
- CIH also hosted the DWP Financial Inclusion Champions for housing
Financial inclusion and rural social housing (June, 2011)
Working in partnership with credit unions (Oct, 2011)
Protecting your rental income stream (April, 2011)
Financial inclusion and housing - baseline survey (June, 2009)