Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty
Tackling financial exclusion is a key priority for the Welsh Government, especially during times of economic uncertainty when it becomes increasingly important to prioritise the needs of the poorest and protect the most vulnerable against poverty and marginalisation. Today, I am launching a refreshed version of the Welsh Government’s Financial Inclusion Strategy, which was first published in 2009.
In recent years, the economic climate in the UK has had a direct impact on the ability of many Welsh families to manage their household incomes. Combined with benefit reforms being introduced by the UK Government, debt and money advice services are becoming an essential factor in the ongoing battle against over-indebtedness and financial exclusion in Wales. Although we are unable to wholly insulate the people of Wales from these pressures, the measures we have developed and will continue to develop, will help those who have been struggling financially.
To keep pace with these changes, we have worked with key stakeholders to refresh the Strategy, which sets out our ambition to support a comprehensive and well functioning financial system in Wales, accessible to all. It also sets out how the Welsh Government will work with partner organisations to help improve access to affordable credit and financial services and access to financial information, including debt advice. This will be underpinned by the need to improve financial capability in Wales, so people in most need can develop the confidence, ability and motivation to better manage their financial affairs and make more informed financial decisions.
The Strategy will build on work undertaken since 2009. For example, we have continued to support front line advice services, but also established a National Advice Network to provide a more co-ordinated approach to service delivery and to develop a longer term plan for quality advice services in Wales, based on information about gaps in provision and people’s needs.
We have also continued to support Credit Unions as they strive to promote ethical and responsible lending to those who would be otherwise financially excluded. In addition, we have introduced arrangements, through our Discretionary Assistance Fund, to safeguard people in crisis by making available small value grant payments to people most in need.
The consultation documents can be accessed online.
Please respond to this consultation by completing an on-line form, which can be accessed online.