New report reveals issues of financial exclusion among social housing tenants 

New report reveals issues of financial exclusion among social housing tenants 

The new research offers an analysis of how social housing residents access and use financial services and examines the impact this has on financial capability and resilience. Picture; David Creedon / Anzenberger

OVER one-third of social housing tenants and other low-income households are experiencing financial exclusion.

That’s according to a new report by Clúid Housing and the Housing Finance Agency (HFA) on Financial Inclusion Among Social Housing Tenants.

The report was launched today by Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe TD.

The research was compiled by University College Cork’s (UCC) Centre for Co-operative Studies and Financial Services Innovation Centre as part of Clúid’s annual Adrian Norridge Research Bursary on financial inclusion among social housing tenants which identifies challenges in enhancing financial wellbeing.

According to the findings, 37% of residents show signs of weak financial inclusion or are in fact excluded.

Only 9% of residents were deemed to have good financial capability.

Women are more likely to be excluded than men while one in eight, or 12%, of residents stated that they did not have a bank, credit union or post office account.

Crucially, the report found that residents were stronger in terms of making ends meet (45%) than they were in keeping track of finances (25%) and planning ahead (9%).

The ability of residents to cope week to week through careful household budgeting and limiting consumption masks the underlying problem that many do not have sufficient income to live comfortably, the report stated.

There was also a strong desire among residents to save with the findings pointing towards the need to support regular, formalised, and secure savings mechanisms for residents.

Levels of insurance cover were also extremely low with 90% living without home contents insurance and 84% without life assurance.

The report makes some key recommendations including increasing the income base or reducing the cost base, promoting financial inclusion with appropriately designed financial services, building financial capability and a supportive social context.

Speaking on the findings, Dr Olive McCarthy, Director of the Centre for Co-operative Studies at UCC said the research engaged directly with Clúid Housing residents to examine how they interact with financial services and manage household finances.

“The findings have important implications for broader policy on financial services and inclusion and for practical supports that can be offered to build financial capability and longer-term financial resilience.

“The report, and its recommendations, are particularly timely as we rebuild our post-Covid economy, and the longer-term social and economic impacts of the pandemic become more evident and more sharply felt.”

Clúid resident and Chair of the organisation’s National Residents Advisory Group, Debbie Kearney said the research shows how community initiatives that support sharing experiences, skills and knowledge can help.

“But we need government and financial institutions to shape the bigger picture too,” she added.

“Being financially independent improves your overall well-being.

"I’m no longer stressed, I sleep better at night and get involved and try and contribute to my community. That’s a better outcome for everyone.”

Established in 1994, Clúid Housing is one of the largest approved housing bodies (AHBs) in Ireland with over 8,400 properties in management.

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