Sunday, 30 September 2012

#CfRCconference2012 - what was that all about?

Karen Michael from the London Borough of Southwark talking about the Universal Credit pilot in Southwark

On Wednesday 26th September, Emma Bryn-Jones went to the annual conference of the Centre for Responsible Credit, in London, a fantastic charity that works under the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion.

The CfRC conference is always a highlight because it brings together an effective mix of alternative and mainstream thought. For instance, alongside government ministers and their shadows, you will find international authorities on evaluating credit use, as well as local projects to tackle indebtedness and promote financial inclusion. This year was no exception.

Our focus was to learn more about welfare reform, so we skipped debt advice with the Money Advice Service and payday lending with Stella Creasy, to get stuck in with ideas and experiences we know less about. Highlights of the day included a superb presentation from Toynbee Hall, about development research to map the impact of money advice and other financial inclusion work, and some inspired community participation that harnessed Buy As You View customers from Teeside, with the company that serves them.

“I take away more questions than conclusions,” said Emma.“The immediate issue seems to be how Universal Credit will be paid, to a household rather than to an individual, potentially into a managed or prepaid account, if you are unbanked or not paying bills on time, and this raises all sorts of issues about independence, risk taking and decision-making. We are in very real danger of some of the poorest people paying for the right to bank in this country, which feels very wrong,” said Emma.

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