CEO thoughts: Fighting the Poverty Premium

November 20, 2017

We have been selected as one of five start-ups to work with Wayra UK to eliminate the poverty premium within the next 10 years. The poverty premium is when people on lower incomes have to pay more due to a lack of credit and consumer choice. On average, it costs the poorest in society £490 a year. Providing more choice and better purchasing options means that families have more cash in their pockets, a vital first step to improving their lives and something that we believe is directly linked to digital inclusion.

If you look at a single parent on a low-income threshold, who must rely on a prepayment meter for gas and electricity, then the poverty premium raises considerably. For instance, some barriers such as paying £5 to receive a print copy of your electricity bill compared to an online version can be quite significant. Furthermore, this is not an issue that affects only a few. A study conducted by Bristol University showed that only 1% of low-income households were not incurring some form of poverty premium.

When we get people online, we offer them choice of what they consume and an alternative avenue to generate income. They can negotiate energy bills, readily access bank statements and they can even look around for the best interest rates on loans. When we work with people to get them online, we teach them how to dispute bills, how to use comparison websites and introduce them to apps that help them save and keep track of their income.

Indeed, going digital is ranked as the number one priority for CIOs of banks, over the past two years, have seen 1,000 high street banks close. We have a responsibility to make sure that the 14 million people who are currently living in poverty in the UK are not left behind in a world that increasingly favours the digitally literate.

Gary Bullock