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Whilst ‘Making Every Moment Count’ is the hashtag for the CII Insuring Women's Futures Programme it has also been my personal mantra throughout 2019. My objectives have been focussed on diversity, inclusion, vulnerability and accessibility plus financial resilience.
Alongside my day job at Scottish Widows, it’s been a very busy and exciting year for me. As I pen this blog I can hand on heart share that I've spent more time in the Palace of Westminster this year than in my employer’s premises.
As a member of the Income Protection Task Force and Building Resilient Households Group, it has been great to see the Group grow throughout the year as we continue to make the case for a better interplay between protection claims proceeds in payment and means-tested and conditional working age welfare benefits. Our focus in 2019 was to secure disregards from means-testing where claims proceeds were being used to pay rental commitments. It’s essential that we make the case as an industry and profession that those taking steps to improve their financial resilience should not be penalised nor disincentivised for doing so.
Whilst referencing resilience, I'm proud to have been a member of the Financial Resilience Taskforce, chaired by Baroness Drake. The intention was to time-box the life of this taskforce to 12 months and we found ourselves one of six steering groups informing the development of the National Consumer Financial Capability Strategy that is due to launch in early 2020.
As a taskforce we made the case for the development of a UK Consumer Financial Resilience Index to be owned by the ONS and/or Money and Pension Service. This for me is an important step to switching consumer and media focus from credit score to resilience scores, ultimately creating a better platform to engage consumers on and about their financial health and especially their resilience to income shocks. This is also why I'm personally very glad to see the Income Protection Taskforce in collaboration with the CII reprise the www.7families.co.uk consumer and colleague educational material in 2020.
It was great to be part of the CII Insuring Women’s Future expert panel and see the programme launch its manifesto and asks of Government and our industry in November plus reach out to "Talk To 10,000" people during Talk Money, Talk Pensions Week.
It was also fantastic to work with the Women in Protection Network and align their conference event with the "We Are Purple" Charity's #PurpleTuesday campaign to raise awareness of the need to improve access to advice, products and services for people with disabilities and health conditions.
In November, my DWP Disability and Access Champion for the Insurance Industry and Profession appointment moved to the Cabinet Office. This reflects an increased focus from Government and all political parties to improve inclusion and diversity across all areas of Government, Business and Society. In this role I have my Access To Insurance Working Group working collaboratively with our professional bodies and all protection trade bodies to improve access to individual and workplace protection; access to careers in insurance for people with a disability; improve trust in underwriting; and highlight the benefits and improved customer outcomes that come from signposting to specialists. This Champion role has seen me present to politicians and their staff at Lancaster House plus recently speak to the Insurance and Financial Services All Party Parliamentary Group.
I would like to thank all intermediaries for supporting Scottish Widows Protect this year plus for supporting my wider industry work. A special thanks also to all industry colleagues working with me on the Access to Insurance Programme.
Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I look forward to working with you in 2020.