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Growth through financial inclusion

A roadmap for UK banks

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were an estimated 12 million people living in the UK with less than £300 in their bank account, while 4 million people in paid work were living in poverty. As we enter 2021, the nation has suffered the greatest financial shock in over a decade, and the economy has shrunk. The pandemic has worsened financial exclusion; even people who previously felt financially secure have found themselves on the brink or in financial crisis.

Financial inclusion is a concern for approximately half of UK banking customers, with 45% saying their wellbeing has been negatively impacted due to financial concerns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened a situation that was previously affecting millions of people in the UK. As a result of the crisis, even more people are suffering poor financial wellbeing and previously comfortable groups are falling into financial difficulty - with many finding that they are not able to access the financial products and services they need to get their lives back on track.

We believe that now is a critical time for banks to prioritise financial inclusion to better serve their customers and support those left behind by our current financial system. There is an opportunity for banks to attract and retain customers by demonstrating their commitment to social impact; since the pandemic over 2/3 UK bank customers say they are more likely to choose a bank with a positive social and environmental impact.

Within this report we explain the complex nature of financial inclusion, the wide-ranging barriers, and the impact of COVID-19. We reflect on the key challenges, and identify the opportunities for banks to grow through positive impact.

Cost of Living

In July 2023, the Financial Inclusion team commissioned research to understand the impact the rising cost of living was having on banking and insurance customers across the UK. We surveyed over 2500 retail banking and 2500 insurance customers.

The objective of this study was to provide greater insight to financial services providers on the impact to their customers:

  • To understand how behaviours outlined in our first piece of research have shifted as the cost of living has continued to rise
  • Provides an understanding on the approachability and accessibility of the support financial providers are putting in place for customers during the cost of living challenges
  • Insight to how different demographics (age, gender, ethnicity, disability, geography) may be harder hit during the current economic challenges

Within these findings we highlight the shifting customer behaviours, provide insight into their level of financial resilience and where they need more focused support from their providers to safeguard their longer-term financial security.

A note on the methodology

These findings are based on a customer survey carried out by independent market research agency on behalf of Deloitte. This survey was conducted online with a nationally representative sample of more than 5,000 UK adults aged 18+, between 26th July and 3rd August 2023.

The financial inclusion problem

Understand the problem

Key gaps and challenges

Identify the challenges

The opportunity to make an impact

Make an impact that matters

Explore our financial inclusion initiatives and insights

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