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Three takeaways from the launch of Financial Inclusion for Scotland

by SIS CEO, Alastair Davis

Earlier this month, with the assistance of Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP, Financial Inclusion for Scotland (FIFS), was formally launched. The work of FIFS, which builds on an earlier group focussed on access to affordable credit convened by the Carnegie UK Trust, aims to bring together an active coalition of partners and founding members to improve financial inclusion for the people of Scotland. Our vision is for easy access to fair loans, savings, insurance products and financial wellbeing tools for everyone – and the ability to acquire help when needed.

The launch event has proven to me, and the other members of FIFS, just why this group is required now more than ever. The number of attendees alone exceeded our expectations, particularly given that for many of us, including myself, it was the first large in-person event we had attended in many months. We understand that it was the first event in many years that focussed on financial inclusion in Scotland; and we continue our work now with the encouragement of the Deputy First Minister.

From the perspective of SIS, there are three key takeaways from the launch event that will guide our next steps:

  1. The need for pace: FIFS is being launched against the background of a cost-of-living crisis, during autumn, when there is a growing sense of dread about the winter that lies ahead. In earlier comments on the creation of FIFS, I committed that we would continually strive to make real and meaningful progress in a challenging area. Whereas financial inclusion is only part of the current crisis, it is essential that we work quickly to identify the key areas of strategic importance where further work is required.
  2. Being open to new ideas and solutions: I also commented in an earlier blog piece that it felt as if not much had changed in the 20 years or so that I have had an interest in financial inclusion, from a variety of different perspectives. What is perhaps most different now is the rapid progression and development of technology-based solutions that have the potential to be transformational in this space. FinTech was an important theme of the launch event, and FIFS aims to explore where technological solutions might play their part in an increasingly digital world.
  3. The value of lived experience: perhaps the most powerful sessions at our launch event were those with the input of End Poverty Edinburgh, an independent group of citizens formed in 2020 to raise awareness of poverty in Edinburgh, influence decision making and hold the city to account. I know that the feedback from these sessions has already changed attitudes and perceptions, and we are committed to ensuring that the voice of this lived experience is not silenced as we progress our work.

I am committed to providing regular updates on the work of FIFS through our SIS website, which will be re-launched soon. If you would like to discuss the work of FIFS in more detail, please feel free to reach out to me directly here.