Rural areas face financial exclusion

By Liz Stephens

Around a million people living in rural areas in the UK face high levels of financial exclusion according to a government report which seeks to deal with the issue.

Rural Money Matters highlights the issue that those in financial difficulty in rural areas are often less visible and more difficult to reach.

Produced by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC), the guide will help local authorities and their strategic partners understand and tackle financial exclusion in rural areas.

“Financial inclusion is about ensuring everyone has the capability and opportunity to access the financial services and products needed to participate fully in modern day society”, said Will Aston, the government’s rural financial inclusion champion.

“Financial exclusion is a real challenge in rural areas. 200,000 people living in rural communities have no access to a bank account of any kind, 250,000 people have no local access to a post office, bank or building society or cash machine and demand for affordable credit and debt advice is outstripping supply,” he added.

Dr. Stuart Burgess, CRC chairman and the government’s rural advocate, said: “The economic downturn is bringing into sharp focus the need for rural people to be able to get the right financial advice at the right time. Rural Money Matters will help to achieve this.”

The DWP is also funding a new role specifically to support the growth of suitable financial services in underserved rural communities.