PublicationsSystematic reviewsA systematic review of barriers to, and facilitators of, accessibility to formal credit for the financially excluded
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A systematic review of barriers to, and facilitators of, accessibility to formal credit for the financially excluded

What do we want to know?

The main objective of this systematic review is to generate evidence on the barriers and facilitators experienced by financially excluded individuals in the United Kingdom, in order to inform policy and practice.

Who wants to know and why?

keeping them in perpetual economic difficulties. This evidence can inform policy and practice in the formulation of targeted policies and strategies that eliminate barriers to inclusion and increase emphasis on factors that facilitate access and usage. In the United Kingdom, disadvantaged people struggle to access affordable credit from the formal sector leading to a dependency on high cost informal credit, that can lead to over-indebtedness and household financial instability, Financial inclusion is linked to economic growth and poverty alleviation and is an enabler for the successful implementation of most of the Sustainable Development Goals, prompting governments to create national strategies for the same.

What did we find?

This systematic review was conducted on qualitative studies that focussed on accessibility to financial services to the unbanked and the financially excluded. Several barriers and facilitators emerged from the themes including - Mainstream Platforms, Online Platform, Self-Exclusion, Alternate Credit and Financial Capability. Opening an account, self-exclusion, the ease of access to alternate forms of credit and lack of financial capability were found to be the barriers to accessibility of formal credit. On the other hand, online banking facilitated access to many communities who were deprived of a physical financial infrastructure and financial advisory services on ground aided the inclusion of many disadvantaged individuals.

What are the implications?

The lack of appropriate products that is customised to the needs of the poor is an important finding that needs the attention of policy makers and the supply side as well. The poor and the disadvantaged need credit instruments that are of small value and disbursed frequently and it has to be noted that this is a primary reason for the increased usage of alternate forms of credit. Furthermore, this review also found that low financial awareness and knowledge levels can lead to ineffectual decision making in terms of choosing the right product, debt management etc. which can eventually lead to perilous financial situations. A greater focus on financial capability should be a priority area for policy makers.

In terms of research, this review found that there are limited studies on financial exclusion from a gender lens as well as studies that examined the specific needs of the older population in the UK. Further research is also required on the consumption patterns of sub-prime credit.

How did we get these results?

This Systematic Review followed the PRISMA framework to examine existing literature on the barriers to and facilitators of formal credit accessibility for the financially excluded in the UK, to answer the research question. Qualitative studies from 2007, post the recession, focussed on credit inaccessibility of financially excluded people in UK were searched for, from four electronic databases including Web of Science, EconLit, IBSS and Sociological Abstracts. In total, 633 studies were obtained from the electronic search and citation searches led to a further 13 studies being added manually and finally 13 were screened for full text. Eight studies that met all the inclusion criteria were appraised for quality, and data was extracted according to coding tools that were formulated and guided by a conceptual framework. The quality appraisal led to five studies being evaluated as high in reliability and usefulness, two as high in reliability and medium in usefulness, and one as high in reliability and low in usefulness. A thematic synthesis was conducted, guided by a conceptual framework that looked at the two main drivers of financial inclusion – access and usage.

This report should be cited as:

Debnath, R. (2017). A systematic review of barriers to, and facilitators of, accessibility to formal credit for the financially excluded. London: EPPI Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.


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