Money, debt, digital: 5 new ways to lose out

29 Jun 2020 |Written by Emma Stone


Did you see the dire warnings from the Money and Pensions Service? In case you missed it:

  • The UK’s need for debt help is predicted to increase 60% by the end of 20211
  • Already, about a fifth of adults are struggling to pay bills, including essential bills2
  • Worst affected groups are those already on low incomes, parents with young children, disabled people, renters and young people; and adults working in sectors hit hardest - many from BAME communities, women generally, and self-employed3

We’re all being urged to take action soon, to avoid debt problems in future. It’s so much easier to do that if you can get online and find help that you can understand and trust.

Poverty and financial exclusion are not the same; they overlap. Digital exclusion makes both worse.4 Here are just 5 ways that poverty, financial and digital exclusion conspire to hold people back:

  1. When you can’t afford the costs of getting online, or staying connected
  2. When you lack the skills to feel safe online, especially when it comes to money
  3. When you pay more for pretty much everything, missing out on money-saving deals
  4. When you face barriers to essential state support, from benefits to HMRC relief
  5. When you’re locked out of free online specialist help for money and debt problems

When organisations work in silos, they make this worse for people who need support most. Organisations addressing poverty and financial wellbeing have been slow to recognise the importance of digital exclusion, or their own responsibilities to address this. As a digital inclusion charity, it has taken a pandemic for us to see that personal internet access (not just community internet access) is now an essential for life, school and work.

We can do better, if we design with people with lived experience, and deliver across silos. Our new coalition and campaign, Leave Nobody in the Dark, is a practical and positive response to a growing crisis. Supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Mastercard Impact Fund, we’re working with Mastercard, Clean Slate, APLE Collective and five community partners to provide practical help with money and build people’s digital confidence. This won’t solve poverty but it will help with levelling up.

We’re not alone. More organisations are waking up or stepping up to the task. Some in our Power Up programme with JP Morgan (like People Know How in Edinburgh) and others like We Are Digital (supported by Lloyds) and Toynbee Hall are on the same journey. Consumer rights champions and initiatives like Fair By Design are also doing more in this space.

The months ahead are going to be incredibly difficult for millions of people. None of us can meet this alone. Our collaboration is a six month response. Our vision is longer term. So, if you can, join us - learn with us - and help us by amplifying our campaign: Leave Nobody in the Dark.

Get in touch to find out more: Dr Emma Stone, Director of Design, Research and Communications

Find out more about the programme and partners

Featured project

Leave Nobody in the Dark