Building the Big Society: What role should banks play?
Andy Mullineux, Deputy Director of CHASM chaired a workshop at the Responsible Credit Convention in London on Tuesday 19 October 2010. Toby Blume (Urban Forum) who had co-organised the workshop and Dr Richard Werner (University of Southampton) were the speakers. Topics covered included:
- The Big Society Bank - will it have enough funds to make an impact?
- Dr Richard Werner - Credit Unions - how can they upscale in Britain and have the big banks tried to block their development?
- Toby Blume - Does the UK need a Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) like the US?
Andy Mullineux discussed how the disclosure requirements under the CRA empowered activists and the CRA was not all about forcing banks to fund Credit Unions and Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) and yet the big banks, despite promises, had not entered vigorously into funding partnership with UK CDFIs (a point made by Brian Pomeroy, Chair, Financial Inclusion Taskforce, in his plenary speech in the morning), so a push seems still to be required for banks to engage. Also CDFIs are potential conduits of micro-business training and a government subsidy could usefully be received for doing this (as in the US, through Small Business Administration). Alternatively the banks could provide the subsidy in return for receiving referrals of business made 'bankable' by CDFIs (and perhaps CUs after they receive new small business lending powers).
Capital taxation of personal and household assets
This event was held on 20 July 2010 at Birmingham Business School.
Taxation will be expected to bear at least some of the brunt of funding the way back to a reasonable fiscal deficit position in the UK, however savage cuts in public spending prove possible to do in the near future. Capital taxation is likely to be used to fill part of the revenue gap the tax system is asked to fill, and in fact the new Government has already provided more than a heavy hint that Capital Gains Tax (CGT) rises are inevitable.
This 'think tank' event looked at the current capital tax system in relation to personal and household assets, analysed related announcements of the 22 June budget and revisited the outline plans discussed during the election for other aspects of capital taxation (e.g. possible increases in IHT thresholds) that may set a future agenda for Government in this area of the tax system. The outcome of this event will provide a short and longer term agenda for evidence-based research that academics, and others aiming to influence the policy debate, can engage with.
Housing and finance in later life: A study of equity release
This event held at the Wellcome Collection Conference Centre in London on 23 June 2010, was the launch of independent research into consumers' experience of equity release schemes, carried out by Louise Overton of the University of Birmingham for Age UK.
At this seminar, Louise Overton presented her research based on a survey of over 500 equity release customers. There was also a response from Laurie Edmans, Chairman of Safe Home Income Plans Ltd., Age UK and a consumer representative.
CHASM launch event - The wealth chasm from inequality to inclusion in housing, pension and financial assets
The Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management (CHASM) Launch Conference was held on 25 May 2010 at the Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham, and it was attended by over 100 delegates.
At a time of increasing economic uncertainty and growing inequality, the UK, like many other advanced economies, has seen a shift from collective welfare provision towards more individual provision. However, many people appear to lack the financial means or capability to manage this effectively. The University of Birmingham has established a new Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management (CHASM) to investigate these issues. CHASM aims to provide a focus for world-class research on the distribution and role of assets in people's lives from housing to pensions to financial savings. This launch conference discussed some of the key themes of the new Centre.