Financial Inclusion – Ensuring that Everyone is Better Off

September 11, 2017

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By Stephen Pearson, Senior Adviser, CEO Office, Virgin Money and Nancy Doyle-Hall, Executive Director of the Virgin Money Foundation

Virgin Money is a member of the Carnegie UK Trust’s Affordable Credit Action Group. Here, Stephen Pearson and Nancy Doyle-Hall explain how partnership working has helped Virgin Money deliver on their ambition to make ‘everyone better off’

At Virgin Money we passionately believe that in everything we do, we should try to make ‘everyone better off’ (EBO). As a significant challenger bank in the UK we understand the importance of financial inclusion and what access to appropriate financial services can do to improve wellbeing.

As such, we started to look for a partnership with a like-minded organisation to find new ways of supporting affordable credit and became involved with the Carnegie Trust and their Affordable Credit Action Group. The Carnegie Trust’s Affordable Credit programme aims to help even the most financially excluded gain access to the basic financial products and services so many of us take for granted. Providing such access can help people break the cycle of poverty and debt and start to build financial resilience.

As well as contributing to the work of the Affordable Credit Action Group, for the past year we’ve been delivering on our ‘EBO’ ethos through a working partnership with Scotcash. Scotcash is a Glasgow-based Community Development Finance Initiative (CDFI) – a not-for-profit social enterprise that offers affordable loans to customers who have few alternatives available to them.

We are delighted to support Scotcash and their customers in a number of ways:

First, we can help customers who don’t have a bank account (there are nearly 2 million in the UK) to open a basic bank account – the Virgin Money Essential Current Account. Our colleagues hold a ‘surgery’ once a week in the Scotcash office to support people open a fee free Virgin Money basic bank account for customers who were previously too intimidated by banks to try and open an account.

The impact of gaining access to banking facilities can be profound. Often, with Scotcash’s help, people can get on top of their finances in a way they may never have believed possible. This in turn can have a positive impact in areas of personal wellbeing and family relationships.

Second, several members of Virgin Money staff have also volunteered to work with their Scotcash counterparts to share their expertise in areas such as risk management, customer insights, marketing, IT systems, change delivery and financial modelling. We have this know-how and capability at Virgin Money so it seems only right to share this with Scotcash to support them as they grow and help more and more people onto the financial ladder.

Finally, the Virgin Money Foundation, an independent charity, was able to co-fund Scotcash’s expansion into Edinburgh with a grant from its new “Ripple Fund” – the first in Scotland. We were proud to host the launch event in our Edinburgh office in August, bringing together around 70 social partners and supporters to celebrate their expansion.

It really was a privilege for us to welcome the Financial Inclusion Community to our offices, and it further underlined our commitment to working with Scotcash to make a difference in the lives of customers who face exclusion from affordable finance.

Virgin Money colleagues thoroughly enjoy providing support to Scotcash. We regard them as a key strategic partner in this sector, allowing us to provide support to customers we would otherwise find hard to reach. We look forward to building on this partnership, and doing all we can support financial inclusion and affordable credit, in the coming months and years.

Scotcash launch photo by Gail Irvine.