Vulnerable people disadvantaged in managing personal finances

Today Shadow Treasurer Andrew Bayly has recommended to the Finance and Expenditure Committee that an inquiry take place to assess whether Government agencies and banks are sufficiently providing services which allow for vulnerable people to continue to manage their financial affairs independently.

“The loss of the ability to use cheque facilities and to be able to visit bank branches is causing distress to many New Zealanders and organisations including the Dyslexia Foundation, Federated Farmers, Blind Low Vision NZ, and Grey Power agree.

“The general trend towards online banking provides convenient ways for most New Zealanders to manage their finances, but we’re concerned vulnerable people have been left behind.

“This includes those who are elderly and not digitally-enabled, those with impairments such as sight, or conditions such as dyslexia, those who cannot afford electronic devices, and those with poor internet connectivity.

“The Government should be working towards more accessible and inclusive systems and removing cheque payments as an option creates unnecessary barriers.

“The shutting down of bank branches in rural and small communities further impacts vulnerable people as well as disadvantages those in rural communities who no longer have the option of face-to-face banking.

“This issue was highlighted by South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen, who asked the Government to intervene on the issue of branch closures.”

Mr Bayly was supported today by representatives of many of the advocacy organisations in calling on government agencies and banks to make sure vulnerable people who cannot manage their finances online continue to have adequate access to services that meet their needs.

This follows Mr Bayly’s petition launched in February last year urging government agencies such as IRD and ACC to accept cheques for payments.

You can read Andrew Bayly's submission here.