The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Ed Balls): The Government are today publishing a document, Financial inclusion: the way forward, setting out general principles for its ongoing financial inclusion strategy.
that everyone should be able to manage their money effectively and securely, through having access to a bank account, and the confidence and capability to get the most from it;
that everyone should be able to plan for the future with a reasonable degree of security. Therefore, affordable credit, simple insurance products should be available to all who need them; and
that everyone should have the information, support and confidence they need to prevent avoidable financial difficulty, and to know where to turn if they do find themselves in financial distress.
Financial inclusion: the way forward affirms the Government's commitment to promoting financial inclusion in the next spending period. From 2008 to 2011, financial inclusion policy will be supported through a new Financial Inclusion Fund. While the amount of the fund will be determined after the Comprehensive Spending Review, the current level of intensity of action to promote financial inclusion will be maintained.
A detailed action plan will be developed by a cross-Departmental ministerial working group, which will report after the Comprehensive Spending Review. The Financial Inclusion Taskforce, which monitors progress and advises the Government on financial inclusion policy, will be extended until March 2011.
The document also announces further spending on financial inclusion in 2007-08; £6 million will be made available to the Department for Work and Pensions, to support credit unions and Community Development Finance Institutions in making affordable credit and banking services available to financially excluded consumers.
The document details progress made to date with financial inclusion objectives. The Government agreed a goal, shared with the banks, to halve the number of people living without access to a bank account. The number of adults living in households without access to a bank account fell from 2.8 million in 2002-03, to 2 million in 2005-06. The number of unbanked households also fell, from 1.9 million to 1.3 million, during the same period. Steady progress is being made with Government's shared goal.
The document announces the Government's continued commitment to working with banks and other financial services providers to reduce the number of unbanked people further, and to promote wider financial inclusion. The Government have asked senior representatives from the banking sector to work with the Financial Inclusion Taskforce to consider how to achieve a nationwide increase in the coverage and capacity of third sector lenders such as credit unions.
As announced in the 2006 pre-Budget Report, the Government asked Brian Pomeroy, Chair of the Financial Inclusion Taskforce, to conduct a review of Christmas savings clubs and hamper schemes. Following the collapse of Farepak in November 2006, the purpose of this review was to increase understanding of who uses these schemes and why, and also to consider how the saving needs of this group of consumers might be better met by mainstream financial products. The review is published today by the Treasury.
The Government have responded to the recommendations made in the review in today's financial inclusion document. Its response includes an announcement that the Department of Trade and Industry has secured agreement from the hamper industry to establish an industry-led scheme to ensure that consumers' interests are fully protected. The scheme will establish secure, ring-fenced accounts, and will be implemented as soon as possible.
The Government also announce that £1 million will be made available to the Office of Fair Trading to run a consumer awareness campaign. This campaign will inform consumers of the options available to them, including mainstream accounts, for saving towards Christmas.
the OFT has agreed to investigate the findings of the Pomeroy review in full, and whether a further inquiry into competition in the market for Christmas saving schemes is needed;
following encouragement and support from the Government, credit unions are now offering Christmas saving accounts with a lock-in. The Post Office also has plans to launch a Christmas saving account. The Government have asked the Financial Inclusion Taskforce to monitor developments, and consider what further detailed actions are needed to expand community-based provision of saving;
the Thoresen review of a national approach to generic financial advice will consider how to provide better generic advice on informal saving;
the Government's financial inclusion campaign, now let's talk money, is working with local charities and community organisations to promote credit unions as an alternative to hamper schemes;
the FSA will enhance the saving information on its MoneyMadeClear website by including information about Christmas hamper schemes; and
the new Wealth and Assets Survey will collect information on informal saving. The Government will use the first results of the survey, due by the end of the year, to inform any further data gathering.
The Treasury Committee conducted an inquiry into financial inclusion in the spring of 2006, and published three reports detailing its findings, in November and December 2006. The Government have sent their response to the inquiry to the Treasury Committee today.
The Minister for Housing and Planning (Yvette Cooper): I wish to make a statement about Government policy on commercial leases and the launch of a new property industry Code of Practice for Leasing Business Premises.
The starting point is the need for a modern, efficient, competitive industry. The UK commercial property industry is acknowledged as one of the foremost and sophisticated in the world, exporting its expertise globally.
However, the Government challenge to the industry is to provide a flexible framework, creating a new partnership between owner and occupier. Our policy is based on careful and thorough research of the property market.
We have had a positive and collaborative response from all sides of the industryowners, occupiers, small business organisations and the professional bodies. The industry has developed new ways of working, setting up the Owner and Occupiers' Forum and the Property Industry Alliance. Alongside this, Government have been working with business to bring about change.
The outcome has been agreement on a new Code, which I am launching today. This comprises three documents: a Landlord's Code of Practice, an Occupier Guide and Model Heads of Terms. The Landlord's Code is significantly stronger in tone and content than the previous Code, while the occupier guide and model heads of terms are designed to improve business understanding of lease terms, helping them to get more suitable lease terms.
The British Property Federation are introducing an accreditation scheme identifying landlords who are committed to the new Code. This will include an independent complaints procedure. I hope the professional bodies will introduce similar arrangements for their members.
I recognise the considerable changes in commercial leasing practices over recent years, especially the trends towards shorter leases. But I am concerned about continuing elements of inflexibility, particularly the predominant use of upward only provisions in rent review clauses and inflexible provisions for tenants exiting property they no longer need.
We will want to keep a close eye on market practice in these areas. If the market does not deliver, we have identified legislative options. Communities and Local Government will shortly be consulting the bodies that drew up the Code about suitable monitoring arrangements.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Vera Baird):
My noble Friend
the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has made the following written ministerial statement:
Percentage of Official Copy and Search applications processed within two working days: 98% Percentage of all registrations processed within 18 working days: 80%
Percentage of registrations processed free of any error: 98.5%
Percentage of customers who, overall, are very satisfied/satisfied with the full range of services provided by Land Registry: Better than 95%
Percentage return on average capital employed: 3.5%
Cost per unit in cash terms(3) (real terms)(4): £29.95 (£20.61)
Provide a sustainable and scaleable e-security infrastructure solution, providing role-based access, identity management and future e-signature functionality for Land Registry's external and business customer base.
Add a further 550,000 hectares of land to the total areas of registered freehold land in England and Wales.
Complete a review of responses to the consultation paper on the Land Registration (Network Access) Rules and the Land Registration (Electronic Communications) Order and report to Ministers.
Move the Land Registry corporate website to the new portal and establish the portal for the use of one or more of the following segments: citizens, conveyancers, lenders, estate agents.
(1)Result from quarterly satisfaction survey.
(2)Agreed with HM Treasury on 20 December 2006.
(3)Based on the GDP deflator issued by HM Treasury on 21 December 2006 (base year 1992-93).
(4)The real term unit cost in the base year of 1992-93 was £30.65
|Target 2006-07||Performance as at January 2007 (unless otherwise stated)||Target 2007-08|
|(1)Result from quarterly satisfaction survey (Ytd Quarter 3), next result due April 2007.|
(2)This is a final year target towards the HM Treasury-agreed cost per unit target for 2006-07 of £29.95 in cash terms (£21.17 in real terms). Target adjusted for revised pension costs.
(3)Based on the GDP deflator issued by HM Treasury on 21 December 2006 (base year 1992-93)
(4)The real term unit cost in the base year of 1992-93 was £30.65.
|Strategic Development Areas||Strategic Development Areas|
Provide a sustainable and scaleable e security infrastructure solution, providing role-based access, identity management and future e-signature functionality, for Land Registrys external and business customer base.
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