Wales: building financial resilience after Covid-19
As part of The Big Conversation, we ran a series of virtual events to explore the best road to recovery for regions across the UK.
On 23 October 2020, stakeholders for Wales gathered as part of Lloyds Banking Group’s Big Conversation to discuss the challenges, opportunities and critical areas of support needed to help people whose finances have been negatively affected by the pandemic, and help them move from financial insecurity to future resilience.
The key issues discussed were:
- COVID-19 has exacerbated financial insecurity in Wales.
- Awareness of support is low, and services are disparate and difficult to access.
- The cultural taboo around talking about financial difficulties is a significant barrier.
- Greater financial education will boost future resilience.
- Integrated advice services would be critical to driving engagement.
- Greater collaboration between organisations will maximise outreach efforts.
Carys Williams, Lloyds Banking Group, Group Ambassador for Wales
Ben Lake MP, Ceredigion
Tonia Antoniazzi MP, Gower
Helen Antoniazzi, Chwarae Teg, Director of Policy and Communications
Nicola Bannister, Lloyds Banking Group, Customer Financial Assistance Director
Amy Dutton, Citizens Advice, Policy Officer for Wales
Akmal Hanuk, Assadaqaat Community Finance, Founder & CEO
Adrian Nicholas, Hafal, Service Coordinator
Vanessa Northam, StepChange, Head of Strategic Relationships
Lee Phillips, Money and Pensions Service, Wales Manager
Watch the event highlights
Challenges and opportunities
COVID-19 has exacerbated financial insecurity in Wales.
- 84% of adults feel it is important for their financial situation to have savings yet 20% have less than £100 put aside, and job losses from the pandemic will put many at risk of insolvency.
- Young people, women, ethnic minorities, renters and self-employed are particularly vulnerable to financial insecurity.
Awareness of support is low, and services are disparate and difficult to access.
- Many people are unaware of where to access help, and are unsure whether they initially need it - only 23% of those who need debt advice have sought it.
- Support services are disparate and spread out, meaning that access is often dependent on digital connection and infrastructure.
The cultural taboo around talking about financial difficulties is a significant barrier.
- There is a stigma around being in debt and one in five say financial stress has a bigger impact on mental wellbeing than pandemic-related concerns.
- There is a clear need to help people open up about finances and seek help earlier on.
"The biggest challenge is financial insecurity, job losses, and the uncertainty this creates. Knowing there is support and where to get it is very important."
Tonia Antoniazzi MP
Solutions to build financial resilience
Financial education will boost future resilience.
- Embedding financial literacy in the education system, and at key intervention points e.g town halls and job centres, will build confidence and empower individuals to manage their money.
- Teachers and parents are felt to play key roles in equipping future generations with the skills needed to build people’s financial resilience.
"Getting people to be brave enough to seek help is a real challenge. There is so much help available, but people haven’t had to do this before."
Vanessa Northam, StepChange
Integrated advice services would be critical to driving engagement.
- Storing advice services in one place, advertising their availability, and providing clarity on the advice process will increase uptake and encourage those in need to gain the support they need.
- This would mitigate against people taking payday loans, which further exacerbate the financial difficulties certain groups face.
Greater collaboration between organisations will maximise outreach efforts.
- Different organisations - charities, banks, local authorities - working together would improve the outreach and targeting of groups / individuals most in need of financial advice.