The results of research¹ by OneFamily for our annual Inspiring Better Futures Report made difficult reading. It found that rising bills have led to young adults struggling to save enough to buy their own home, with six in ten pointing to the increased cost of their weekly shop and a similar number highlighting rising energy prices. Four in ten say that their salaries have not kept track with inflation.
Meanwhile nearly half of those who are over 50 told us that they are anxious about the cost-of-living crisis and a fifth say they don’t have enough money to live on. During the coldest months of the year four in ten were considering switching off their heating altogether, with more than half saying they were worrying about how they were going to pay their bills.
Working families have been hit hard by the increases in Base Rate, with an estimated 1.5 million fixed rate mortgages coming to an end this year just as new deal rates rocket and those in rented homes seeing increased costs being passed on by their landlords.
It’s a desperate situation for so many people and it really does make you wonder how on earth we can put things right. As ever, it’s the most vulnerable with the least amount of resilience in their budgets who are suffering the most.
In the UK there are 24 million adults² who have one or more characteristics of vulnerability related to poor health, low financial capability, low financial resilience and significant life events. And this is where I think businesses like OneFamily have a social responsibility to step in, to support their customers and find ways to provide a steadying hand. That might simply be guidance or sign-posting towards help or it could even be in the design of the products themselves or perhaps direct support with charitable giving and hands-on action such as volunteering.
One area that we focus on in our Inspiring Better Futures report is financial inclusion. We think that financial products should be accessible and affordable for everyone regardless of how much money they have. As such a lack of financial inclusion has become an ever more pressing problem as the cost-of-living crisis continues. The complexity and high minimum savings requirements of some investment vehicles exclude smaller savers, which are the accounts that have lower profit margins for financial services companies. They’re the people who can least afford to lose money, yet they are also the people whose cash savings are being crushed by inflation, whose salaries are being eroded or whose monthly budgets are being blown apart by soaring mortgage payments or rents, food costs and utility bills.
We focus on making sure our products are as financially inclusive as possible. Our long-term investments have monthly payments options from just £10 each month, and our life insurance premiums start as low as £10 each month. This means ordinary people have the opportunity to prepare for the future for themselves and their family.
I also think it’s important to stand up for our customers, to highlight where exclusion exists and give a voice to the voiceless. So, we support the young, the disadvantaged and the marginalised to help them towards the futures that they deserve. We’ve campaigned hard for a change in the law that puts right the unfairness that young people with mental incapacity face when they try to access their child trust fund savings. We’ve significantly raised the profile of this issue, most recently with a piece on the BBC National News and we will continue to lobby for change to happen.
We are also giving charities and local community projects the support they need to help the most vulnerable and marginalised, both financially and by volunteering. I’m especially proud of our new charity partner RedSTART. Its Change the Game research programme will be delivering fun, interactive workshops to school children across the UK to teach them about money. We believe that access to financial education is the key to future wellbeing, so this truly is financial inclusion in action.
OneFamily is here to do the right thing, to support those who can’t gain the help they need elsewhere. We’re here for our members in times of need - to help them towards the future that they deserve. For us life isn’t about surviving – it’s about thriving.
We’re a mutual, which is a term that’s not always readily understood. But in a nutshell it means we’re a member owned organisation, so we can reinvest our profits for good. I believe that our commitment to doing the right thing by our members and their communities shows that the centuries old values of mutuality still have a place in modern society.
Especially right now.
¹ Research was conducted in February 2023 with a sample size of 2,000 people
² Financial Conduct Authority (2020). Financial Lives: The experiences of vulnerable consumers (9-10). Available from: https://www.fca.org.uk/publication/research/financial-lives-experiences-of-vulnerable-consumers.pdf
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The views, opinions and positions expressed within guest blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the BSA.