Saturday, 18 December 2010

More on banking

We reported in October 2009 that A4e had set up a company called Capitec UK Ltd under an unclear relationship with the South African bank, Capitec, and had been given a £1m grant from Yorkshire Forward's Regional Industrial Development Board to get a bank up and running. That seemed to fall through. But A4e haven't given up. Mark Lovell has had a lot to say about ways of getting involved in "financial services and banking for the poor", citing schemes in the UK and abroad. In a blog post on 17 November he mentions his admiration for Capitec, but saysa nothing about Capitec UK. Five days earlier another post set out what he percieves as the shortcomings of the Post Office Bank and insists, "There is a need for a radical new banking service for people stuck below and outside mainstream financial services. The Post Office network may be invigorated through these proposals but the financial proposition is a long way from supporting the most financially vulnerable and marginalised. I still intend to do something about it." And in that post he refers to a document called "Total Person" which explains A4e's ambition to have a single "broker" for all the interventions and services which a client needs. It's a well-developed programme; and given Emma Harrison's apparent success with the coalition government it could see a further spread, especially given the intention, by A4e at least, that the Work Programme will give them the right to deal with "whole families". That is chilling enough in itself, but coupled with a banking service for these clients it would be nightmarish.
People with little money and no prospects need all the help they can get from agencies designed as public services and accountable to the public. They should not be forced to access these services through a private, for-profit company.


  1. Lovell's "Total Person" document, on the face of it has some noteworthy suggestions, but... Some very worrying claims are made. "A single sanctionner = cut benefit fraud" - The case of Orsman springs to mind, as do the number of fraudulent New Deal outcome payments claimed.
    The figures quoted for failure would seem to suggest that everyone slipping through the net will turn to crime, become homeless, and in massive debt. Then again, it suggests that legal/financial/health problems can be solved at a cost of under £300.
    Then there is the use of the (para)phrase "trusted key worker" - Theft of a laptop containing client data, hostile and/or denigrating attitude of (some) staff, lack of accountability. Hardly a solid foundation for building trust.

    About the only comment that I would be in complete agreement is the requirement that "key workers to be superbly trained" - Quite where Lovell intends to find these workers is yet to be explained.

  2. This Total Person (TP) thing sounds too Orwellian to me. The figures shown that the cost of Action is up to 6,700 or Failure would be 210,000. It is an an insult to suggest that this Total Person could prevent a Child going into care, does TP somehow prevent sexual or emotional abuse. How can this TP help others overcome addiction, mental health problems. Does it have a magic wand that will prevent housing repossessions taking place, as this seems to be connected to 2.5 million people being unemployed. This also seems to suggest that the 'hardest to help' will somehow start to commit crimes and go to prison.


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