Beyond numerical targets
11. It was suggested in evidence that progress towards
financial inclusion through access to banking services should
not simply be associated with progress towards the numerical targets
implied in the shared goal. The National Consumer Council told
Numerical targets for achieving financial inclusion
will not deliver useful and appropriate services to the unbanked.
The focus must shift to the design of basic bank accounts. Ensuring
that accounts are more attractive and useful to financially excluded
people is a far more sensible way of improving and sustaining
a higher level of take-up.
Professor Elaine Kempson summarised the views of
many witnesses when she told us that there was concern that "attention
has become focussed on the numbers of people without a bank account
with much less consideration of whether these accounts are actually
used or their usefulness to people on low incomes".
Mr Ed Balls MP, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, accepted
that these were valid points, and told us that work was being
carried out not only on the number of accounts being taken up,
but also on the kind of attributes that people who do not have
bank accounts would like to see.
The analysis in this Report reflects the importance of two different
dimensions to access to banking for the socially excludedopening
an account and being able to operate an account in an appropriate