Overall, the Foundation wishes to be a pioneer in thinking and action in the charitable sector on the use of financial resources to deal with fundamental issues; in other words, it wishes to encourage “the right use of money”.
Trustees began their exploration of this theme by commissioning a collection of essays and making a small number of grants.
In 2006 they launched a 3 year Financial Inclusion funding programme – with the overall aim of ‘re-balancing’ the financial services market in favour of low-income consumers – as the primary means of supporting work under the Right Use of Money heading. It supported projects that sought to create conditions under which access to appropriate financial services might be permanently improved for those who are currently excluded, particularly those on low incomes or otherwise vulnerable to market failure. These services include banking, free debt advice, savings and affordable credit. The overall aim of the funding programme was to ‘re-balance’ the financial services market in favour of low-income consumers.
The Foundation’s main giving programme for 2009 – 2012 was a refocused Financial Inclusion programme – with some new, and very specific, outcomes that Trustees wanted to see achieved:
- A shared vision amongst key stakeholders of what financial inclusion means and the ways it might be achieved.
- Universal banking access: identification of viable models for community-focused banking services, along with sustainable sources of capital and an appropriate regulatory framework.
- Sustainable approaches to funding debt advice: the development of sustainable, accessible, efficient and on-going funding streams.
- Increasing savings: helping low-income groups to build savings, as a way to help combat poverty and develop future personal autonomy.
- Clarification of the role of affordable credit in building greater financial inclusion: there are still questions about the role of credit in our society and these should be explored and clarified.
- Sustaining the progress made towards financial inclusion thus far: identifying and supporting third sector providers of financial services that are used by low income people.
In December 2011, Trustees took stock of what had been achieved so far under the heading of Financial Inclusion and decided not to accept any further funding applications on an unsolicited basis. This would allow effort to be devoted to maximising the impact of the work funded to date and for the remaining resources allocated to the programme to be focused on commissioning work to fill any identified gaps. Consideration would also be given to launching a brand new funding programme, which would not have Financial Inclusion objectives.
(The current funding programme, entitled ‘Resilient Economies’, was launched at the end of April 2013.)